There is perhaps no politician in this country who is enjoying greater popularity and visibility right now than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He has garnered almost universal praise for spearheading his state's response to the coronavirus pandemic and for how he has used regular news briefings to offer comfort to millions of people sheltering at home.
Governor Cuomo's on-air chats with his younger brother, CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo, have also become viral sensations. (A highlight: the two bickered over who loved their mom more. Chris resorted to revealing an embarrassing old family photo of the governor wearing bell bottoms and a colorful shirt.)
As @NYGovCuomo rolls out his #IStayAtHomeFor social media campaign, his brother @ChrisCuomo shares a surprise.
"I'm staying home for these guys," says Cuomo, revealing a vintage Cuomo family photo.
"There are no words. There are no words," says the governor with a smile. pic.twitter.com/kIRGqbMxXa
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) April 9, 2020
Lately, it's the Governor's close and collaborative relationship with his daughters that's stealing the spotlight. This week, 25-year-old Mariah appeared with her father at his daily coronavirus briefing, where he revealed that she jokingly called him a "bad communicator" for not getting enough New Yorkers to wear face masks. Her appearance, of course, wasn't just for laughs.
Mariah had come up with a plan to encourage people to wear protective coverings. “Mariah’s suggestion is, why don’t we ask New Yorkers to produce an ad that the state could run on explaining to New Yorkers why they should wear a mask—the rationale and the health reasons and the social responsibility,” the governor said.
The 30-second ads would be submitted at wearamask.ny.gov. Then the state would choose five for New Yorkers to vote on, with the winning submission airing on TV. Mariah will spearhead the project as a volunteer at the New York Department of Health.
The governor didn't miss an opportunity to poke fun at Mariah's boyfriend Tellef Lundevall, who has been sheltering in place with the Cuomos at the governor's mansion. "The boyfriend, he could submit a possible ad for consideration," he said. "The boyfriend will lose, but he could submit an ad, because I'm still governor."
While Governor Cuomo is currently the most prominent member of his family—followed closely behind by his brother Chris—the Cuomos are one of America's most powerful dynasties.
Here's what you need to know about the governor and his clan.
Mario Cuomo, father
Andrew's father, who died of heart failure in 2015 at the age of 82, was born in Queens to Italian immigrant parents and attended law school there at St. John's University. He was the 52nd Governor of New York and served three terms from 1983 to 1994. Widely considered a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nominations in 1988 and 1992, Cuomo declined to enter the race both times. When Bill Clinton became president, he considered appointing Cuomo to the Supreme Court but the latter declined that as well. When he lost the election for a fourth term as governor to George Pataki, Cuomo joined the law firm Wilkie Farr & Gallagher.
While several people (including his brother Chris) have asked Andrew if he has presidential aspirations following his experiences with the COVID-19 crisis, he is reportedly most focused on a fourth gubernatorial term, which would begin in 2022. It's a milestone his father never achieved—he lost to George Pataki in 1994.
Matilda Raffa Cuomo, mother
Andrew's mother, Matilda Raffa, married his father in 1954. She was a staunch advocate for women, children, and families as First Lady of New York, and in 2017 she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted "Matilda's Law," a protective order for all New York state citizens over the age of 70, who are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Chris Cuomo, brother
Mario and Matilda's youngest child is a CNN anchor and host of Cuomo Prime Time. Chris and Andrew, with their 13-year age gap, reportedly had an almost father-son-like relationship growing, especially while their father was busy with his gubernatorial duties.
After a month-long battle with the coronavirus—during which he taped his show from the basement of his home and gave frequent updates on his condition—the youngest Cuomo revealed in late April that he has beat the illness, testing negative for Covid-19 (and positive for the antibodies). Unfortunately, his wife Cristina and 14-year-old son Mario are currently battling the virus.
In 2001 Cuomo married Cristina Greeven in Southampton. She is the former editor in chief of Manhattan and Beach magazines and founded her own wellness magazine called Purist in 2017. They have three children: Bella, Mario, and Carolina.
On Wednesday April 15th, Chris announced on his CNN show that his wife Christina had tested positive for COVID-19. "Cristina now has Covid. She is now positive. And it just breaks my heart. It's the one thing I was hoping wouldn't happen. And now it has." he said on Cuomo Prime Time.
Margaret Cuomo, sister
Mario and Matilda's first-born, Margaret (she is two years older than Andrew), is a radiologist and advocate for cancer prevention. She has one daughter, Christina Cuomo Perpignano, with first husband Peter Perpignano, and another, Marianna Cuomo Maier with second and current husband Howard Maier.
Maria Cuomo Cole, sister
The third-born Cuomo sibling funds social-impact documentaries through her production company Cuomo Cole Films. She was the executive producer of 2012's The Invisible War, a documentary about sexual assault in the US military that won a Peabody, an Emmy, and was nominated for an Oscar. The film inspired then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to order all sexual assault cases be handled by officers ranking colonel or higher. Cuomo Cole was also the producer of Newtown, another Peabody Award-winning documentary, about the 2012 elementary school shooting. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016.
She married fashion designer Kenneth Cole in 1987 and the couple have three daughters: Emily, Amanda, and Catie.
Madeline Cuomo, sister
Madeline is the most private Cuomo sibling. According to a 1993 New York Times wedding announcement, she married her high school sweetheart, Brian O'Donaghue, who was at the time a lawyer specializing in matrimonial law.
Kerry Kennedy, ex-wife
The governor of New York was married to Kerry Kennedy, the seventh child of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, for 15 years, from 1990 to 2005 (the tabloids dubbed the union "Cuomolot"). They had three daughters, twins Cara and Mariah, and Michaela. Kennedy is currently the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a nonprofit advocacy group.
The Kennedy clan suffered a tragic loss this month when Kerry's niece Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean (she was the daughter of Kerry's sister Kathleen) and her 8-year-old son Gideon went missing in the Chesapeake Bay after they rowed out in their canoe to retrieve a lost ball. Their bodies were recovered this week. Governor Cuomo addressed the tragedy during his briefing over the weekend. “The most difficult level is the human level, it is for me, anyway,” he said. “My daughters’ cousins have a tragedy. They can’t hug each other, they can’t be with each other to grieve together.”
Sandra Lee, former girlfriend
After his divorce from Kerry Kennedy, Governor Cuomo began dating Sandra Lee, the Food Network star of Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee, for which she won a Daytime Emmy in 2012. The two met at a party in the Hamptons in the summer of 2005. When Cuomo became governor in 2011, Lee became New York's de facto First Lady. After 14 years together, the couple split in September 2019 though they remain close (Lee is also close to the governor's daughters and his family).
Cara Kennedy-Cuomo, daughter
Twenty-five-year-old Cara is one of Andrew and Kerry's twin daughters (the other is Mariah). She attended Harvard and is an associate at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a nonprofit run by her mother. She's currently staying with her father at the governor's mansion to help with COVID-19 relief efforts and, according to him, bravely enduring his many "dad jokes."
Mariah Kennedy-Cuomo, daughter
Cara's twin sister, Mariah, attended Brown University where she majored in history and wrote for the college newspaper. She is an associate at Teneo, a global communications and advisory firm. She is currently spearheading a new project as a volunteer at the New York Department of Health to get New Yorkers to wear face masks to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus. She appeared at her father's daily briefing this week to announce the new initiative, which would crowdsource ads from New Yorkers on the importance of wearing face masks. The submissions would be narrowed down to five by the state, and citizens would be able to vote for their favorite to air on TV.
Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, daughter
Andrew's youngest daughter, Michaela, 22, is a senior year at Brown University. She appeared with him at a press conference last month at which he encouraged college students to skip spring break trips, as Michaela had herself done, to help stop spread the coronavirus. At one point he turned to her and said, "I think it's cooler to be with me than, like, road trip." To which Michaela responded, "So cool."
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