On Tuesday morning, hundreds of people gathered at the Upper East Side’s Church of St. Ignatius Loyola for the funeral of former three-term New York governor Mario Cuomo, who died on New Year’s Day at the age of 82.
In addition to his wife, Matilda, and children — New York governor Andrew Cuomo, CNN reporter Chris, and daughters Maria, Margaret, and Madeline — the mourners included Bill and Hillary Clinton, Vice President Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer, Mayor de Blasio, and NYPD chief Bill Bratton. State Troopers lined the snowy stretch of Park Avenue outside the church, and bagpipe music preceded the arrival of the hearse carrying Cuomo’s hearse.
The current governor paid tribute to his father with a 39-minute eulogy that was both personal and political: “At his core, he was a philosopher. He was a poet. He was an advocate. He was a crusader. Mario Cuomo was the keynote speaker for our better angels,” said Andrew, who stressed that his father was “anything but a typical politician.”
On why Mario didn’t parlay his popularity among Democrats into a presidential run, Andrew explained, “Because he didn’t want to. That’s all.” But, when it came to another election — Cuomo’s fourth-term bid, which he lost to George Pataki — his son said, “My only regret is I didn’t return from Washington to help in his 1994 race. Whether or not it would have helped, I should have been there. It was the right thing to do and I didn’t do it.”
Addressing New York’s current policing controversy, Andrew said that his father “knew racial and class divisions are the New York City fault lines.” He continued, “They say your father never leaves you. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear his voice. But one doesn’t need to listen carefully or be his son to know what Mario Cuomo would say today. It’s time for this city to come together. It’s time to stop the negative energy and move this city forward.”
“My father called himself a progressive pragmatist,” said Andrew. “His goals were progressive, but his means were pragmatic … He said he didn’t care, and he wouldn’t be reduced by the shortcomings of others, including mine.”