Thursday, January 1, 2015
Mario M. Cuomo
Mario M. Cuomo
Giants are generally larger than life. They walk among the clouds and leave huge footprints in their wake. That's why they are called Giants.
By any objective standard, we can count Mario Cuomo of New York as one of them. He was a giant. A true political giant , and the premiere political polemicist of our time. His rhetoric could set our hearts throbbing and our spirits soaring . He was unparalleled in the pursuit of political piety and profundity, and he could simultaneously appeal to our collective conscience and urge us on to nobler goals . He was an eloquent orator who appealed constantly to the higher angels of our nature, and he set a very high bar for ethical probity in governance .
Mario Cuomo was a superb example of all that is best in our political system, and a man of deep and true conviction who could compromise when need be on matters of governance, but never compromise the fundamental principles on which
he built his successful legal and governmental career.
I first met Mario Cuomo in 1974 in Niagara Falls, at the Democratic State convention, where he was campaigning for Lt. Governor.
We spoke in his small hospitality suite for about 20 minutes, and I was duly impressed. He was trying to parlay his success at mediating an ethnic housing dispute in Queens into the pursuit of higher office. He won the nomination to be Hugh Carey's running mate. He lost the primary to Upstate State Senator Mary Ann Krupsak , but became Gov. Carey's Secretary of State, and used that position to travel the state and build support, and four years later, became Hugh Carey's running mate for a second term. In 1982, I supported his run for Governor in the primary against NYC Mayor Ed Koch, and held a fund raiser for him at our large home in Oswego. I can still picture him speaking from the staircase to over 100 enthusiastic supporters. He went on to win the primary and the election, and two more elections after that. He even recorded a commercial for me when I ran for Mayor of Oswego. Our paths would cross many times over the years, and I always had the utmost respect for him.
The last lengthy conversation I had with him was several years ago, over the need for a constitutional convention for NYS, a move he enthusiastically supported. He also talked at length and with great pride about his sons Andrew and Christopher, and their accomplishments. He was as proud a father as he was a Governor. He would invariably end most of his speeches with the NYS motto, one word, Excelsior ! Onward and upward. That word is a fitting. epitaph for his life and many achievements. Excelsior, Mario M. Cuomo. Excelsior!
John T. Sullivan Jr.
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