Will he stay or will he go?
That’s been the burning question around Albany and all of New York State following a series of bombshell reports concerning Governor David Paterson. The reports detail his actions in a possible cover-up attempt involving an alleged domestic violence incident surrounding one of his closest aides, David Johnson.
The reports, which began last week and continued through a March 1 New York Times story that said Paterson personally directed two staffers to contact the alleged victim and ask her to characterize the incident as nonviolent, have led to an increased call from state and city legislators for Paterson to resign now so the state can go about its business.
“We have a $4.1 billion budget deficit to grapple with in New York City and cannot make real progress until the State budget is resolved on time one month from now,” City Comptroller John Liu said. “In order for this to happen, we need Governor Paterson to step down now.”
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whom many people consider the most powerful man in State government, has called for Paterson to excuse himself from the budget negotiations and allow Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch to take the reins in spearheading what will be a more than $8 billion budget deficit this year.
“I think it would be good,” Silver told The New York Daily News. “I think he might have some, I’ll call it, out-of-the-box thinking that may move us toward resolution. Obviously, everything he does would be at the behest of the Governor.”
However, not all state leaders believe Paterson should be forced to resign.
“Governor Paterson should not resign at all,” State Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson said on Monday, March 1. Sampson said that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo should finish the investigation, which Paterson asked him to begin when news of the scandal broke, before making any decision.
On Friday, February 26, Paterson, who became New York’s first African American Governor and first legally blind Governor in March of 2007 after then-Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned amidst a prostitution scandal, officially terminated his reelection campaign, saying he would not run in November.
“It has become increasingly clear to me in the last few days that I cannot run for office and try to manage the state’s business at the same time, and right now New York State needs a leader who can devote full time to this service.”
With Paterson bowing out of the 2010 race, it appears that Cuomo will be the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor, although he has not officially announced his candidacy yet.
“I am sure this is a difficult choice and a sad day for the Governor and his family. It is in the best interests of all New Yorkers that the state government function through this difficult time and address the pressing budgetary problems we face,” Cuomo said on February 26. “This is an election year and I will announce my plans at the appropriate time. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on my job as Attorney General and the many important issues we are pursuing.”