New York Gov. David Paterson, under pressure from several powerful Democrats – including a battalion of heavyweight Black politicians – to give up plans to run for governor in 2010, says to expect him on the ballot.
In a shocker Sunday, The New York Times reported that President Obama jumped into the fray, asking Paterson, one of only two sitting African-American governors, to get out of the race for the sake of the Democratic Party. Although it is a risky move for Obama, given the racial and political implications, the White House apparently is concerned that Paterson, who inherited his post a year and a half ago after Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a tawdry sex scandal, would be vulnerable to defeat.
A new poll shows that Paterson – who is battling a $2 billion budget deficit, the highest unemployment in a quarter-century and who has admitted to early drug use and his own share of marital infidelities – has only 20 percent of New Yorkers who think he is doing a good job. In addition, 70 percent of voters – 65 percent of whom are Democrats – say that Paterson is not a strong candidate for 2010, according to the poll, conducted by Marist College. On the other hand, the state’s first-term attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, is liked by 69 percent of voters, and 76 percent of respondents – 77 percent of whom are Democrats. By moving out of the way, Democratic leaders say, Paterson would help the stronger candidate lock the state down for the party.
According to the Times article, African-American political insiders, including Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, a close friend of Paterson’s and an Obama associate, have explained the dire political realities to the governor. The Rev. Al Sharpton, speaking on his radio show Sunday, said he too has spoken with Paterson, although he did not elaborate about the details of that conversation or even if he was one of those advising the governor to throw in the towel.
One of the main concerns for Democrats is the possibility that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani would jump into the race. The thought that Democrats could lose a key state like New York to Republicans is a scary one for the party, the state and the White House.
The GOP wasted no time pouncing on the Democrats, calling Obama’s intervention unprecedented interference from the executive branch. On Sunday, the party’s most high-profile African American, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, called Obama’s involvement “stunning.” He said it was curious that “the White House would send word to one of only two Black governors in the country not to run for reelection.”