Local leaders remember Mario Cuomo as champion of poor, 'a liberal lion'

Connecticut leaders are remembering former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo for his "concern for the less fortunate" and "soaring oratory."

Cuomo, 82, died on New Year's Day in Manhattan. The liberal Democrat served as governor of neighboring New York state from 1982 to 1994.

“America lost a man who inspired so many with extraordinary vision, soaring oratory, and an unwavering commitment to democratic values," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said in a joint statement after Cuomo's death was announced.

"Gov. Mario Cuomo’s words inspired public officials and community leaders across the nation that we can and must do better — for everyone," they said. "He leaves a legacy of government that does not turn its back on those who are struggling.”

'A liberal lion'

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents a part of Shelton, called Cuomo "a  liberal lion whose dedication to public service will be badly missed."

"Along with millions of others I greatly admired Gov. Cuomo’s core liberal values and the eloquence with which he articulated a progressive future for our nation," said DeLauro, who was first elected to Congress in 1990 and also is known for her liberal views.

DeLauro and Cuomo both were active in the 1988 presidential campaign of Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, who lost the election to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.

"Many years ago I was privileged to work with him on Gov. Dukakis’s presidential campaign and was struck by his kindness, deep faith and concern for the less fortunate," she said.

"Since then I was honored to continue our relationship, and particularly enjoyed our conversations on the Catholic Church and the need for a National Infrastructure Development Bank," Dukakis said.

Family and background

Cuomo is survived by his wife Matilda and their four children. This includes son Andrew, the current governor of New York, and son Chris, a morning news anchor on CNN. Andrew Cuomo had been sworn into a second term aa New York governor only a few hours before his father's death.

Mario Cuomo grew up in Queens, N.Y., the son of Italian-American immigrants who owned a small neighborhood store. He was an attorney.

He had been considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in both 1988 and 1992, but declined to actually run both times.