Cuomo, making headlines after he and Sandra Lee ended their 14-year relationship, is no stranger to media attention

By Rachel DeSantis
September 25, 2019 06:58 PM
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Andrew Cuomo
Credit: Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Author, TV chef and lifestyle personality Sandra Lee and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have called it quits after a 14-year romance, bringing a different kind of attention to the Democrat who followed in his famous father’s political footsteps.

But Cuomo, 61, is no stranger to headlines.

Now in his third term as governor of the Empire State, Cuomo has been in the news for years, from his time in the so-called “Cuomolot” via his ill-fated marriage to a Kennedy to his many rebukes of President Donald Trump, a fellow born-and-bred New Yorker.

Here are five things to know about Cuomo.

Like Father, Like Son

Andrew Cuomo, Mario Cumo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (left) and dad Mario Cuomo in 2006
| Credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty

Born and raised in Queens, Cuomo’s family cemented its decades-long place in the state’s politics when his father, Mario Cuomo, was elected governor in the early ‘80s after serving in other roles in the ’70s.

Mario, a Democrat, served for three terms, from 1983 to 1994, before he was defeated by George Pataki.

Mario died in 2015 at age 82 on the same day the younger Cuomo began his second term as governor. He remembered his father in a statement as having improved “the business environment of New York and the quality of life for its citizens, despite a national recession at the time.”

“He was my best friend. He was my best ally,” Cuomo told The Atlantic in March. “My best colleague. Brilliant. Principled.”

Cuomo followed in dad’s footsteps with a political career, working for years with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before returning to New York, where he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002.

His younger brother, Chris, pursued a career in journalism instead, working for several years as an anchor on Good Morning America and now serving as a CNN anchor.

A Kennedy Marriage

Kerry Kennedy, Andrew Cuomo
From left: Kerry Kennedy and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2002

Cuomo was married for more than a decade to Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy. The couple tied the knot in 1990 after 18 months of dating, with The New York Times reporting in 2003 that Kerry once said she fell in love with him after he took her on a tour of a homeless shelter on their first date.

They welcomed three daughters together: twins Cara and Mariah, 24, and Michaela, 22.

Despite their marriage representing a union of two of the most powerful Democratic families in the country, a 2015 book published by Vanity Fair writer Michael Shnayerson painted a portrait of Cuomo as a man who “always felt like the odd man out” among his wife’s family, despite his fascination with the Kennedy clan.

Kerry stood by his side during his bid for governor in 2002, but they separated a year later and divorced in 2005.

Relationship with Lee

UniChef Premier Event, New York, USA - 15 Nov 2016
From left: Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sandra Lee in 2016

Cuomo was still reeling from dissolving marriage when he met the Semi-Homemade host at a Hamptons cocktail party in 2005, the same year she reportedly divorced businessman Bruce Karatz after four years of marriage.

By 2008, they’d moved in together in a mansion in New Castle, New York, which Lee listed in May, sparking rumors of a breakup.

Though they never married, Lee and Cuomo discussed it, with the lifestyle entrepreneur telling The New York Times Magazine in 2012 it was something his three children wanted.

“It’s very sweet,” she said.

Lee, who has no biological children, came to think of the girls as her own, once joking they were her “semi-homemade daughters.”

“Everybody’s cool with it. I absolutely feel like they’re mine when they’re with me,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in 2011.

Cuomo also remained by her side during her bout with breast cancer in 2015, calling her illness “one of the hardest things I have ever gone through personally.”

Trump Spars

Andrew Cuomo, Donald Trump
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (left) and President Donald Trump
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty; SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

Cuomo has long been a critic of President Trump, calling him everything from “un-American” to a “coward.”

“He is personally and emotionally motivated. He is without long-term strategy and tactics, and he’s scared,” Cuomo told The Atlantic in March. “He’s lost a lot [of supporters] who have lost faith in him. Once you lose faith in the person, the message loses credibility … He was a businessman, outsider, successful, articulate. And a fresh face. He had all that going for him. Now he is mercurial. Obnoxious. Alienating.”

Cuomo drew criticism from Trump in July after he signed a bill allowing congressional committees to access the president’s state tax returns for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.”

Trump hit back, as he is wont to do, on Twitter, writing that Cuomo “uses his Attorney General as a bludgeoning tool for his own purposes. They sue on everything, always in search of a crime.”

Previously in March, he accused Cuomo of being a “presidential harasser.”

Cuomo, meanwhile, slammed Trump in August 2018 during scathing remarks at the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights in Brooklyn — criticizing Trump on everything from gun violence to his treatment of women.

“For all the President’s bluster and for all his tough talk, the truth is he’s afraid of the NRA and he genuflects to the lobbyists. That’s the truth,” Cuomo said. “Trump’s America disrespects women. You had thousands of women stand up and show the courage to come forward with the #MeToo movement and speak about the sexual harassment that is endemic in our society and this President did nothing.”

He added, “I have a message for the President: Mr. Trump: I’ve known you for 30 years. You may be a slick salesman, who fooled many people in this country, but you didn’t fool me and you didn’t fool New Yorkers.”

What’s Next?

With his relationship with Lee now in the rear view, Cuomo will focus on his next goal: another term as governor.

Months after he was elected for a third term, beating former Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon for the Democratic nomination in the process, Cuomo said he plans on running once again in 2022.

“I plan to run for a fourth term,” he said in May during an interview on WAMC radio. “I believe I’m making a difference in the state of New York. I believe that in my heart.”

He continued, “I think I’m doing good things … I believe I know how to do this. I would like to do it for as long as the people of the state of New York believe I am a positive.”