If you blinked last week, there is a very good chance you missed Governor David A. Paterson’s re-election campaign. He announced he was running on Saturday, February 20 and dropped out on the following Friday.
Paterson’s withdrawal came in the wake of a New York Times report, which alleged that Paterson had improperly intervened in a court case filed against one of his closest aides, David Johnson.
Paterson allegedly contacted a woman just before she was due to appear in court seeking an order of protection against Johnson. Aides to the governor at first tried to claim that the woman had initiated contact with Paterson, but were later forced to admit that it was the Governor who first reached out to her.
Now, with Paterson out, it has been said in many quarters that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is all but the governor-elect unless either Jesus or Derek Jeter get in the race. I hope Bruce Springsteen changes his residence from Jersey and runs for office in New York.
Cuomo, however, is likely to hold off on officially announcing until after his office has competed its ongoing investigations into both Paterson and Senator Pedro Espada.
The media and political elites do the public a disservice by creating an air of inevitability around Cuomo. While polls may indicate he is the front-runner, most things in politics should not be treated as a foregone conclusion.
Inevitable winners do not always prevail. If that were true, we would have Senator Martha Coakley and President Hillary Clinton.
Rather than ordaining Cuomo, the New York press, which can be notoriously hard-hitting on everyone from politicians to celebrities to athletes, should scrutinize his records and campaign message, and do the same to the presumptive Republican nominee, former Congressmember Rick Lazio.
The voters should be treated to an in-depth discussion of the important issues facing our state, in particular our sky-high deficit and reforming Albany dysfunction.
There is ample material for scrutiny of both Cuomo and Lazio. When candidates run for office, their public records are fair game, as is conduct that demonstrates their judgment and character.
Just as Lazio’s votes in Congress should be on the table, Cuomo should be made to answer for his stewardship of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) when he was the agency’s secretary in the Clinton administration.
Let’s hope New York’s media ask both Lazio and Cuomo tough, hard-hitting questions and finally give New Yorkers the campaign coverage they need and deserve.
Daniel Egers is on Councilmember Dan Halloran’s staff, is executive director of the Queens County Republican Party, a Trustee of the Bayside Historical Society and President of the Friends of Oakland Lake. The views expressed in this column are his own.