That was the apparent message sent down from Washington, D.C. and President Barack Obama’s administration to Governor David Paterson asking him to not run for Governor in 2010, clearing the path for popular NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to run instead.
After reports leaked out about the request, Paterson reiterated his intention to run in 2010, creating for an awkward moment when he greeted President Obama at an upstate New York airport on Monday, September 21.
“It certainly is not good news that the Obama White House last week back channeled on their desire for Paterson to withdraw from the race, and yesterday’s speech at Troy sent an oblique but direct message to Paterson and to Cuomo,” said Doug Muzzio, a political professor at Baruch College. “It’s more bad news for the Governor, and it makes his job more difficult.”
The message, which was relayed from the Obama administration to Paterson last week by friend and Queens Congressmember Gregory Meeks, took place at a private dinner and reports were leaked to the media over the weekend.
On Tuesday, September 22, Meeks went on Bloomberg Television to clarify some of the reports saying that the Obama administration never said to tell Governor Paterson he should step down or he should not run for reelection or anything of that nature.
“So basically, I was just telling the Governor that there are some issues that the [Obama] administration has and that he needs to try to talk to some folks in the administration to see if they can be resolved,” said Meeks on Bloomberg TV.
Paterson, who took over as Governor when Eliot Spitzer resigned, has been saddled with low poll numbers during the past year, with approval ratings hovering around the 20 percent mark.
The low poll numbers have fueled speculation that former New York City Mayor and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani might jump into the race to challenge Paterson should he be the Democratic nominee in 2010. Recent polls show Giuliani trouncing Paterson in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, but they show Cuomo handily defeating Giuliani, which may have contributed to the message from Washington, D.C.
“Number one, in New York, a weak gubernatorial candidate does several things, it puts the State Senate in danger, and if the Democrats lose control of the State Senate it makes governing more difficult,” Muzzio said.
However, the potential consequences might not even stop there, according to Muzzio.
“The stakes are big – a weak Governor with Kirsten Gillibrand running for the [U.S.] Senate – you might lose the Senate seat,” Muzzio said.
Meanwhile, Paterson did get some good news on Tuesday, September 22 when the state Court of Appeals in a 4 to 3 decision ruled that his appointment of Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch was legal – overturning the ruling of two lower courts.
“Lieutenant Governor Ravitch is an exemplary public servant and business leader, who has spent his life working on behalf of the people of this state,” Paterson said in a statement. “Time and again he has answered the call to duty, never hesitating to abandon the comforts of private life for the trenches of public service. Thanks to today’s decision, he will be able to serve once again.”