NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Andrew Cuomo has been governor of New York for almost 11 years, but he has commanded the political spotlight here for decades.
He's had his ups and downs politically, but nothing like the sexual harassment scandal that some call a Shakespearian tragedy.
CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer takes a look back at the rise and fall of the scion of one of the state's most important political families.
Andrew Cuomo will never realize his dream of surpassing his father's record of serving three terms as governor. In fact, he won't even be able to match it, because, despite his denials, a sexual harassment scandal brought him down.
"I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old, and I have lived my entire life in public view. That is just not who I am. That's not who I have ever been," Cuomo said on Aug. 3.
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The rise and fall of Andrew Mark Cuomo - he was named for his grandfather Andrea - is inextricably linked to his dad, the legendary 52nd governor of New York, Mario Cuomo.
The two had an unusually close and extremely complicated, and competitive, relationship, starting when Mario tapped his then-24-year-old son to run his gubernatorial campaign in 1982.
Andrew came out in the political world in a September, 1982 Daily News story headlined "Cuomo's Whiz Kid Is His Kid."
He was off and running, masterminding a campaign Mario was not expected to win against popular New York City Mayor Ed Koch. But he did, Andrew went to Albany, he lived with his dad in the executive mansion, and became his dad's alter ego.
His title was "special assistant," but the job really meant fixer: Bullying people, especially politicians and reporters who, in their eyes, did Mario wrong.
Andrew followed Mario's example: Mario, a man so intensely competitive, he even had to beat his own kids at basketball.
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Ironically, Mario Cuomo died on Jan. 1, 2015, hours after Andrew was inaugurated for his second term. Andrew has spoken of how he asked his father to listen to his speech. His sister apparently played it for Mario on an iPad before he passed away.
But it is clear that losing his dad, his beacon, his north star, created a huge hole in his heart, which may be why he insisted on naming the old Tappan Zee Bridge for him.
It was clearly a combination of regret, and a son's search for a fitting tribute to an often larger-than-life figure, a legend in his own life, and in American politics.
"I'm sorry. I really never got a chance to say thank you," Andrew Cuomo said in 2018. "Thank you for being my father. I love you so much."
After working for his dad for a few years, it was time for Andrew to get out from under his shadow. In 1983, he became an assistant DA in Manhattan. Two years later he founded HELP, a program to build housing for the homeless.
In 1993, he became an assistant secretary, and then cabinet secretary, of HUD, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton.
Ironically, the son of one of the country's great orators, once told Kramer that Clinton, not his dad, taught him how to light up a room when giving a speech.
Andrew Cuomo's first run for governor came in 2002, a primary against African American Carl McCall, where the only way to win was to go negative. He chose to drop out.
"I will not close the gap in an election by opening one in the body politic," he said at the time.
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Then his storybook marriage to Kerry Kennedy - they called the union "Cuomo-lot" - fell apart.
In 2006, he was back in the political spotlight, running for attorney general against Republican Jeanine Pirro. He won: The kid was back.
Four years later, after Governor Eliot Spitzer imploded due to, yes, a sex scandal, he ran for the top job on a plank of cleaning up Albany.
"The dysfunction, the corruption, the embarrassment is hurting all of us. We need to clean up Albany now," his ad said.
And while he was an ambitious and forceful leader, pushing through such tough things as gun control and same sex marriage, he really caught the national imagination with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, when New York became the epicenter of the disease, Ground Zero.
His daily press conferences became must-see TV for much of the nation.
"We said early on, it wasn't a question of if, but when. This is New York. We're a gateway to the world. You see all these cases around the world, around the country. Of course we're going to have it here," he said in his first COVID briefing in March, 2020. "Our challenge now is to test as many people as you can."
"Not providing the information creates the void. The void allows misinformation and conspiracy, and now people are left with the thought 'Did my loved one really have to die,'" he said in February.
Letitia James didn't buy the excuse. In a report, the New York Attorney General alleged that the state undercounted deaths at nursing homes by as much as 50%.
In December of 2020, Lindsey Boylan became the first to accuse the governor of sexual harassment.
"Yes, [Governor Cuomo] sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched," Boylan tweeted.
Boylan opened the floodgates.
As more women came forward, the governor went on the defensive.
This was last March:
"I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this," Cuomo said. "I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that's not easy to say."
"I want you to know this directly from me. I've never touched anyone inappropriately," he said.
He talked about wanting to fight to the end, but in the end, gave in to political reality.
"I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing."
Editor's note: This story first appeared on August 10.
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