Governor, New York
What He's Done Cuomo has compiled an impressive track record as a reformer. As New York's attorney general, he busted the student-loan industry for corruption, forging a national settlement that saved students millions on their college loans. As governor, he eased the state's budget crisis – and provided a tax cut for the middle class – by pushing through a tax hike on the wealthiest. Most dramatically, he spearheaded a bipartisan move to legalize gay marriage in New York – an effort he described as being "at the heart of progressive government." Cuomo not only won the support of four Republican state senators – two of them fellow Catholics, conflicted by their faith – he also pressured hedge-fund managers who support gay marriage to fund an ad campaign that insulated the aisle-crossers from a right-wing backlash.
Admirers Say "I have great respect for his leadership on marriage equality," says Theodore Olson, the former Bush v. Gore attorney who is seeking to overturn California's ban on gay marriage. "It took courage, determination and considerable skill and patience to make this happen."
Enemies Say "He is the dirtiest, nastiest political player out there," according to former governor and bitter rival Eliot Spitzer.
Gives Us Pause His lack of transparency. In December, he gave lawmakers only a day to consider a 19,000-word bill revamping the state's income tax code.