AndrewCuomo's path to political redemption turned out to be something of a shortcut.

After his 2002 campaign for governor failed spectacularly - in part because of his off-the-cuff speaking style - many political observers wrote him off. That was followed by the ugly public collapse of his 13-year marriage to Kerry Kennedy, mother of his three daughters.

But four years later Cuomo emerged from a crowded field to become state attorney general, a position in which he has won mostly high praise for wide-ranging efforts to reform Wall Street, the student-loan industry and Albany. His personal life has settled down, with Cuomo in an apparently stable relationship with Food Network host Sandra Lee since 2005.

Meanwhile, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation and Gov. David A. Paterson's deep unpopularity unexpectedly cleared the way for Cuomo to take another shot at both the governor's office and the culmination of a political dynasty that began nearly three decades ago with his father, Mario. Andrew Cuomo officially announced his candidacy Saturday afternoon outside the Tweed Courthouse in lower Manhattan, before the Democratic state convention that begins Tuesday.

"He is a different person politically today because he's had the experience of being elected to statewide office, finding the matters that citizens care about and doing something about them," said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran political consultant who worked for Cuomo's Democratic challenger in the 2002 race. "He had a little bit of luck in that Eliot Spitzer was not a good governor, never mind the prostitute, and David Paterson was not effective at all - he became the alternative to the chaos because he had done his job as attorney general well."

Cuomo, 52, was born in Queens, the second child of Mario and Matilda Cuomo. Even before graduating from college, he was a trusted, and in some circles, infamous, aide to his father - first in the elder Cuomo's failed campaign for New York City mayor and then in his successful, long-shot run for governor.

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Relationship with father

In a relationship that is now etched into political lore, Andrew served as his father's enforcer, strong-arming allies and opponents, and he bore the brunt of his temper when things went wrong. The two were extremely close, at one point sharing an apartment in Albany.

"He spent a lot of time in Albany with his father when his father was governor," said Stanley Klein, a political-science professor at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University and a Republican committeeman. "I think it helps him - being up close, you're not shocked by some of the idiocy that comes to you as you sit behind the governor's desk."