Mario Cuomo’s 2009 night in New Jersey

sarlo

Democrats brought everyone in that 2009 campaign season – from President Barack Obama to former President Bill Clinton to Vice President Joe Biden to Caroline Kennedy to Robert Kennedy, Jr. –  in an attempt to revive the sinking campaign fortunes of incumbent Governor Jon Corzine.

But arguably the strongest ally Corzine had came across the river one night to Lyndhurst to make the case for the nearly belly-up Dem.

It was former Governor Mario Cuomo, who died today at the age of 82.

State Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36) remembered that night, he was there along with Essex County Executive Joe DiVIncenzo, then-Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer and many others.

“One of my great memories in politics was watching him walk into that catering hall,” said Sarlo (pictured). “Standing in the room, I heard one of the greatest campaign speeches I ever heard – and he wasn’t even a candidate.”

The room had a Stag at Sharkey’s feel, with even the most ghoulish faces in the crowd suddenly transfixed by the erudition and passion of Mr. Cuomo.

“We believe in all the people,” said Cuomo on that night.

It was a remarkable moment in New Jersey, where tough so often trumps caring, and that caring – given voice in this case by a commanding presence like Cuomo, became a moment – not enough to re-elect a badly damaged Corzine for the Democrats, but in that space of time a reminder of where the best priorities might lie if truly championed.

“We don’t care what color they are; we don’t care where they came from,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We are particularly interested in them if they’re poor or they’re invalided or diseased or they’re sick. And we know that there are needs for government to deal with those people because there’s a limitation on what the private sector will do for them.”

Remembering Mario Cuomo, Sarlo looking back tonight said, “In that room, as Mario Cuomo spoke, you could hear a pin drop.”

Ultimately, no one could say it better than the man himself.

“I think I’m behind,” Mr. Cuomo said in his 1994 campaign loss to George Pataki. “I think I’m an underdog. I was born an underdog. I win as an underdog. I run as an underdog. I look like an underdog.”

Mario Cuomo’s 2009 night in New Jersey