Andrew Cuomo, veritable first son of New York, former Clinton cabinet member and now governor of his great home state, has initiated changes and seen accomplishments almost unprecedented in New York’s recent political history.
Both New York and leadership are in Mr. Cuomo’s blood. The son of Mario Cuomo, a three-term governor of New York, he was born in Queens, where he went to Catholic school before attending Fordham University in the Bronx and Albany Law School. Following graduation, Mr. Cuomo assisted in his father’s gubernatorial campaign, then joined the governor’s staff as a top policy aide.
In 1986, Mr. Cuomo, then a district attorney in New York, founded the Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged (HELP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating public housing and providing services like job training and addiction treatment for the homeless.
During President Clinton’s administration, Mr. Cuomo joined the Department of Housing and Urban Development, becoming secretary of HUD in 1997.
Mr. Cuomo returned to New York to run unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor, and was subsequently elected attorney general in 2006 and governor in 2010. Just as the public began to wonder if the state was ungovernable after the failures of the Spitzer and Paterson administrations, Mr. Cuomo delivered much-needed change. Having lost in 2002 at least in part due to the perception that his elbows (and tongue) were too sharp, Mr. Cuomo has governed with an eye on coalition-building. He has forged strong relationships with the Republicans who control the State Senate and mixed moderate fiscal positions (a property tax cap, new deals with state unions that don’t give away the farm) with progressive social positions, including aggressive gun-control legislation and a same-sex marriage bill that made New York the biggest, most influential state to pass marriage equality laws.
Governor Cuomo has, for the first time in memory, passed two consecutive, on-time budgets, unveiled a bold slate of infrastructure projects and introduced a new system for how developmental money will be distributed throughout the state. Mr. Cuomo, who lives with his girlfriend, Food Network host Sandra Lee, is all but assured of a run for president in 2016. In the meantime, his accomplishments paint a picture of a man who doesn’t feel pressure—he applies it.