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BREAKING: New York Governor Paterson Ends Reelection Bid Amid Scandal

by David Badash on February 26, 2010

in Marriage,News,Polling

Post image for BREAKING: New York Governor Paterson Ends Reelection Bid Amid Scandal

After fending off a recently-reported bombshell rumor, New York’s Governor David Paterson, the man who succeeded Eliot Spitzer after a sex-scandal resignation, has decided to not seek reelection, amid reports of his own scandal.

Via The New York Times:

“[M]any had said publicly this week that Mr. Paterson’s chances had been damaged, perhaps irreparably, by the disclosures that the governor himself had stepped in on behalf of David W. Johnson, 37, a close confidant who rose from being a young intern to being Mr. Paterson’s driver and scheduler and, later, to a wider role in Mr. Paterson’s operation.

“Last fall Mr. Johnson’s longtime companion accused him of brutally assaulting her, telling the police that he had choked her and thrown her against a dresser. She also said that Mr. Johnson had kept her from calling for help.

“Twice, the woman was granted a temporary order of protection against Mr. Johnson. But she complained in court that the State Police had pressed her to drop the allegations.

“Then, on Feb. 7, the day before a court hearing about a final protective order, Mr. Paterson spoke to her on the phone. She did not show up for the hearing the next day, and the judge dismissed the case.”

Paterson’s rise to New York’s chief executive came amid shock. Spitzer was a highly-respected attorney general who handily won the Governorship with 69% of the vote. But Spitzer’s tenure as governor was rocky, and months before his resignation his popularity quickly diminished, especially over “Troopergate.” Spitzer resigned from office on March 12, 2008, two days after the New York Times reported Spitzer had repeatedly patronized prostitutes.

Paterson, the day after his own inauguration as governor, confessed his own marital infidelities, as did his wife. But the people and the press, tired of the Spitzer sex scandal, were willing to ignore Paterson’s indiscretions and he received wide support.

However, Paterson quickly lost that support. His leadership stumbled several times, and when the time came to appoint a replacement for the senate seat held by Hillary Clinton, who accepted the position of Secretary of State in Barack Obama’s White House, Paterson’s performance was called into question as his office was slow to respond to rumor. Several candidates were rumored but not announced. Then, when Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, announced her interest in the seat, but was publicly rebuffed by Paterson’s office, Paterson quickly lost whatever support he had left. To this day, he has been reported to be the governor with the least support in New York State history.

Both Paterson and Spitzer, early in their tenure as governors, announced they would pursue enacting marriage equality. Paterson ensured New York State offices recognized same-sex marriages from any other jurisdiction, and in April, 2009, Paterson announced his intent to sign a gay marriage bill. He labeled Prop 8 an “unfortunate accident,” and described lack of marriage equality as “not a crisis of issues but a crisis of leadership.” Sadly, Paterson’s tenure has been plagued by just such a crisis of leadership.

Similarly, in April 2007, then-Governor Spitzer announced his support for a same-sex marriage bill, but was rebuffed by a no vote under New York State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Paterson’s position as Governor Spitzer’s Lieutenant remained vacant until he appointment of Richard Ravitch, as New York has no formal process to replace the lost of a lieutenant governor.

Despite his low popularity, Paterson announced he would seek to retain his position in the fall, 2010 election, and began unofficially campaigning several months ago. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the man many thought Paterson should have appointed Senator, instead of Kirsten Gillibrand, has always polled to be far ahead of Paterson.

Senator Gillibrand, a state senator from the north, and thought to lean conservative, was skeptically received in the southern, more progressive half of the the state. But she quickly amended her position on gun control and gay rights, and has been an ardent supporter of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and same-sex marriage.

(On a personal note, I attended a meeting Senator Gillibrand held last fall in New York City with the LGBTQ community, including gay leaders like Dan Choi, and I fully believe she has our interests at heart. She has worked tirelessly for our interests and has earned the right to be elected to the seat this fall.)

Of course, we all know what happened this week when Harold Ford tried to squeeze into New York politics…

At this point, Paterson will be even more of a lame duck through the end of his embattled governorship, leaving the New York State Legislature with no powerful peer, which will no doubt lead the state into insolvency, both financially and morally, for years to come.

More than ever, it’s time for the people to throw the bums out.

(UPDATE) Although it is assumed Cuomo supports same-sex marriage, his stance is not exactly known, and he has been cautious to lend an opinion only on the legality of specific state issues. Recently, however, it was reported (via Lez Get Real) that Cuomo would “be headlining a fundraiser for State Senator Carl Kruger.” Kruger is one of the “Hate 38,” and one of eight New York State Democratic senators who voted down the marriage equality bill in December.

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