Embattled Gov. Paterson for the first time Wednesday opened the door to not running for election next year – while his wife attacked President Obama for trying to drive him from office.
“I think if I got to a point where I thought my candidacy was hurting my party, obviously it would be rather self-absorbed to go forward,” Paterson said at a Syracuse luncheon.
Paterson has been under pressure from some Democrats and union leaders in New York and most recently the White House to drop his plans to run.
Paterson said he still plans to run – for now.
“I didn’t say that anybody would have to convince me [to step aside],” he said. “I don’t think anyone who is clearly hurting their party would [run] when it is going to make the party lose.”
The Daily News reported Sunday that White House political director Patrick Gaspard told Paterson on Sept. 14 the administration preferred he not run.
Ignoring Obama’s Wishes, Paterson Plans To Seek Re-Election - [9/24/2009 - 2:45 p.m.]
ALBANY, New York — Gov. David Paterson is not scrapping his plans to run for the office he inherited 18 months ago, despite growing pressure from senior Democrats in Washington.
“My plans for 2010 are to run for governor of the state of New York,” Paterson said Sunday after serving as grand marshal to the African-American Day Parade in Manhattan. “I am running for office.”
Paterson’s remarks come amid mounting pressure from Washington and within New York to drop out because of his low poll numbers and concerns from other Democrats that he might hurt their chances in 2010.
“I think the White House is very concerned about 2010,” said Lee Miringoff of the Marist College poll, which last week found Paterson mired in some of the lowest approval ratings of any New York governor.
“They are worried that Paterson’s pick for the U.S. Senate, (Kirsten) Gillibrand, might be vulnerable,” Miringoff said. “They are also worried they might lose that seat and they want the head of the ticket to be stronger than Paterson’s numbers are.”
Asked if he was concerned about losing some Democratic support because of his low poll numbers, Paterson said: “No, I feel like in this very difficult economic time, just about all the governors are facing the same types of problems.”
But the signals from Washington Democrats may be what state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, riding high in the polls, needs to increase fundraising for a possible run for governor. Cuomo has refused to challenge Paterson so far and has declined to say if he will seek the job held by New York’s first black and legally blind governor.
“The White House is giving Cuomo all the political cover he needs to get in this,” Miringoff said.
In addition to governor, every statewide office and the majority of state Senate seats will be decided in the 2010 elections.
A Cuomo spokesman would not respond to requests for comment Sunday.
“Clearly, the governor is not doing well with New York voters right now,” said Steven Greenberg of the Siena College poll. “But, again, the election is 14 months away .. that’s a lifetime in politics, or multiple lifetimes.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, said on his radio show Sunday that he has spoken with the White House and Paterson about his concern that Democrats do what is best for the people of New York. He wouldn’t say whether he was advising Paterson to drop out.
Obama has not spoken with Paterson about the race, said a senior White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive political matter. But it’s no secret that Democrats — in New York, in Washington and at the White House — are very concerned about Paterson’s re-election bid.
Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor, has signaled that he may seek the Republican nomination for governor. Polls have shown that Cuomo would be a much stronger candidate than Paterson in a matchup against Giuliani in the predominantly Democratic state.
The White House has not ordered Paterson to leave the race and would not do so, the official continued, saying only that the governor can make the decision about what’s right for him, the party and the state. But Paterson and his advisers have been made aware of Obama’s concern about losing the governor’s office in such a key state, the White Office official said.
Another senior Democratic adviser in New York said those seeking Paterson’s withdrawal are suggesting he could land a Washington job in the Obama administration. The adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to speak for Paterson or the New York congressional delegation.
Paterson is scheduled to present a plan later this month to the Legislature to deal with a more than $2 billion deficit that likely will require politically unpopular cuts in funding for some of Albany’s most powerful special interests.
Last week, the Marist College poll found 20 percent of New York voters approved of Paterson’s performance as governor, compared with 21 percent in June. Only 24 percent of Democrats felt he was doing well. Seventy percent of voters said Paterson isn’t a viable candidate for 2010, including 65 percent of Democrats.
In comparison, Cuomo’s job approval rating is 69 percent. Sixty-seven percent of New Yorkers felt he should run for governor, including 77 percent of Democrats.
As lieutenant governor, Paterson moved to the governor’s office in March 2008 after Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal. Since then, his popularity has plummeted and the state’s economic situation has deteriorated, with job losses mounting and the unemployment rate rising to its highest level in 26 years.
“I found that to be stunning, that the White House would send word to one of only two black governors in the country not to run for re-election,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, reacting to news accounts on CBS television’s “Face the Nation.”
“That will be very interesting to see what the response from black leadership around the country will be about the president calling the governor to step down or not run for election,” said Steele, who is black.
[SOURCE: Associated Press]
Report: Obama Asks Paterson Not To Seek 2010 Re-Election [9/20/2009 - 9:15 p.m.]
WASHINGTON — President Obama has sent a request to Gov. David A. Paterson that he withdraw from the New York governor’s race, fearing that Mr. Paterson cannot recover from his dismal political standing, according to two senior administration officials and a New York Democratic operative with direct knowledge of the situation.
The decision to ask Mr. Paterson to step aside was proposed by political advisers to Mr. Obama, but approved by the president himself, one of the administration officials said.
“Is there concern about the situation in New York? Absolutely,” the second administration official said Saturday evening. “Has that concern been conveyed to the governor? Yes.”
The administration officials and the Democratic operative spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions with the governor were intended to be confidential.
The president’s request was conveyed to the Mr. Paterson by Representative Gregory W. Meeks, a Queens Democrat, who has developed a strong relationship with the Obama administration, they said.
The move against a sitting Democratic governor represents an extraordinary intervention into a state political race by the president, and is a delicate one, given that Mr. Paterson is one of only two African-American governors in the nation.
But Mr. Obama’s political team and other party leaders have grown increasingly worried that the governor’s unpopularity could drag down Democratic members of Congress in New York, as well as the Democratic-controlled Legislature, in next fall’s election.
[SOURCE: NY Times]