David Paterson

Paterson: Low Turnout Raised Volume Of Cuomo Dissenters

Former Gov. David Paterson, the state Democratic Committee chairman, downplayed the percentage of the vote received by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rival in Tuesday’s party primary, blaming it on low turnout that drew critics of the incumbent.

Paterson, in a statement Wednesday afternoon, said the votes received by both Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout and Columbia University professor Tim Wu — both of whom exceeded pundit expectations by clearing 30 percentage points — was due to Cuomo detractors: Mainly disgruntled public employees and teachers as well as anti-hydrofracking advocates.

Paterson said those types of advocacy voters “have the loudest voice” when turnout is low.

“In yesterday’s primary with so few contested races on the ballot and no real competition for the Governor’s race we saw surprisingly low turnout from Democrats – only about 10 percent of the over five million Democrats registered in New York showed up to the polls,” Paterson said in a statement released by the party. “When less people vote, the most passionate groups have the loudest voice and both the map and numbers showed exactly that. Voters opposed to fracking, and certain public employee unions unhappy with their contracts and teacher evaluations were the most motivated in this primary.”

Cuomo argued on Tuesday after voting that his supporters were “passionate” as well and insisted, once again, that the only percentage he was seeking was 51 percent.

Both Cuomo and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, secured high vote margins in their geographic bases: western New York and New York City and its suburbs.

The little-known Teachout and Wu, however, did well in upstate counties, many of them rural.

But Paterson today argues that not too much should be read into the Teachout-Wu campaign’s marshaling the Cuomo dissenters enrolled as Democrats who were interested enough in the less-than-10-percent turnout primary to vote.

The former governor says being the state’s chief executive, especially an effective one like Cuomo, inevitably results in becoming estranged from certain segments.

“As a former governor, I know that making responsible decisions does not make everyone happy. Governor Cuomo’s record is one we as a party can be proud of because he had the courage to make the right decisions, even if they came with some political cost,” Paterson said. “In this instance, negotiating a responsible contract with PEF with three zeros when our state faced a multi-billion deficit, reforming a pension system that has been bankrupting local governments, creating accountability for teachers in our schools and putting science ahead of passion on fracking played a role in the primary and an even more important role in putting New York State back on the right track.”

And then Paterson pivots back to the general election, criticizing Astorino’s stances on social issues:

“As we turn to the general election, this is a strong case for Democrats to make, particularly in the face of opposition that caters to the other farthest extreme. The stakes are high: a choice between a governor with a progressive record who is fixing the economy and standing up for equality, and an extremist who’s being sued for housing discrimination and has a record on social issues that would makes Rick Santorum smile. We have the fortune of facing Republicans, whose positions and proposals are vastly out of step with the electorate and our base, including constituencies who came out in force in the primary. Now we must bring our case to the people.”

Cuomo has often argued that despite noisy protests over a certain policy, the broad majority of the state is with him when it comes to achieving results. His critics are on the margins of the broader opinion of the state, Cuomo says, and adds many often pay more attention to the palace intrigue of the Albany bubble and not the larger picture.

Cuomo certainly would want to end a post-primary narrative that suggests he doesn’t have the support of liberals in his state or that he’s got a problem with unifying the Democratic Party heading into a general election in which he would like to post a substantial margin of victory.

Paterson: ‘Two Republican States’ (Updated)

Former Gov. David Paterson, now the chairman of the New York Democratic Committee, noted in a statement the disparity between Republican standard bearer Rob Astorino’s economic development plan and Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos touted his conference’s economic record in an open letter.

“Rob Astorino put out an economic statement today and Senator Dean Skelos put out an open letter to New Yorkers,” Paterson said in a statement released by state Democrats. “They are both fascinating reading although totally inconsistent as if they live in different states. Senator Skelos’ letter says the state is doing great and jobs are up and taxes are down and celebrates four years of great accomplishment. Upstate is doing great and education is advancing. The state is winning! I agree. Senator Skelos happened to omit the one name most responsible for this success, namely Governor Cuomo. However, Rob Astorino must live in a different state because he thinks the state is doing terribly. He thinks New York is losing and needs radical reform. It really is a tale of two Republican states.”

The Astorino agenda and one backed by Senate Republicans isn’t mutually exclusive, of course.

The plan released by Astorino, of course, isn’t something that Republicans in Albany would have a hard time embracing: He wants to double down on the property tax cap by making it permanent, he favors stripping away and streamlining regulations and backs high-volume hydrofracking of natural gas.

But in classic triangulation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made his achievements at the Capitol the same success story Senate Republicans can tell, even as the GOP conference tries to keep Democrats from gaining full control of the chamber.

Senate Republicans, unlikely in 2012, will likely not be including Cuomo in their campaign ads and literature.

Cuomo, who in May announced he supported a full takeover of the state Senate by his party, has since played nice with Skelos in public, most notably including him on a high-profile trip to Israel last week.

That’s not to say Democrats are working hard to drive a wedge between the Senate GOP and the Astorino camp.

There was a flare up in the relationship in June, when Astorino’s top political advisor, Bill O’Reilly, openly criticized Senate Republicans for compromising with Cuomo and even considered running for a vacant seat.

Updated: State Republican Committee spokesman David Laska responds.

“Politicians who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Only one candidate for Governor is facing a challenge from within his own party: Andrew Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo’s New York is ranked dead last fiftieth in tax climate, business-friendliness and outmigration, and even many Democrats are tired of his schtick. That’s why over 45,000 of them signed petitions for Cuomo’s primary challenger.”

Paterson Blasts Astorino’s Christie Statements

He didn’t call him “little Robbie” this time, but former Gov. David Paterson in a statement from the state Democratic Committee blasted the comments by GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino as “reckless, irresponsible” for suggesting Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie were conspiring to not support the Republican’s campaign.

Astorino on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show earlier today said Christie should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association if he was too closely tied to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Christie, the RGA chairman, has said he has no plans to campaign for Astorino.

But Astorino suggested in the radio interview that if Cuomo and Christie had cut a “side deal” then he shouldn’t be in the position of helping Republicans run for governor.

“If there’s a side deal or a quid pro quo or a handshake between the two of them, he can’t do his job,” Astorino said of Christie.

“Maybe there’s an issue we don’t know about,” he added.

Paterson, the Democratic committee’s chairman, called the comments “not fitting” for a candidate for governor.

“I read Rob Astorino’s quotes calling for Governor Christie to step down from the RGA, and alleging a cover up on Bridgegate as a reason for Christie’s lack of support for Astorino,” Paterson said. “That is a reckless, irresponsible accusation to make with no basis whatsoever, and not fitting for a qualified Gubernatorial candidate. Maybe that’s why his candidacy is not being taken seriously.”

It’s Getting Mean

A statement released under state Democratic Party Chairman David Paterson’s name on Tuesday blasted GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino and even brought up the 20-year-old police corruption conviction of his father.

The statement knocks Astorino for allegedly attempting to secure the endorsement of the Westchester Independence Party in 2013, alludes to his top advisor referring to Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos as a “prison punk” and — naturally! — doesn’t fail to mention Republican Chairman Ed Cox’s father-in-law is the late Richard Nixon.

“Now it all makes sense. Yesterday, Rob Astorino was talking about cleaning up Albany because he knew today he was going to be charged with being dirty: voter fraud, election fraud and racketeering. His top spokesman Bill O’Reilly clearly had prison cells on his mind yesterday because he knew this case was gong to the District Attorney. Just last week, Rob was attacking ‘convicted felons’ because his father – a convicted felon – was about to be charged as his accomplice in a RICO suit. Nixon’s son-in-law Ed Cox clearly picked Astorino because all of this is a story of corruption that made him feel right at home. Just like old times! A Westchester judge just found 3,700 cases of voter fraud and removed them from the party. It was a gross example of the worst kind of political corruption. Clean up Albany, not with little Robbie’s dirty hands.”

Granted, Astorino’s campaign has accused Cuomo and his girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee, of skirting property tax laws by not having a proper permits completed for renovations on the home they share in Westchester as well as barring an assessor from viewing the home’s interior.

Nevertheless, it’s heated rhetoric — attributed to a courtly former governor — for a governor’s race that shows the incumbent Democrat comfortably ahead in the polls.

Paterson: Dem Senate Takeover Doesn’t Have to Happen This Year

Newly minted state Democratic Chairman David Paterson weighed in this afternoon on the effort by his former colleagues in the Senate minority to re-take the majority, saying it’s “possible” but not necessary in this election cycle.

“It’s possible, but I don’t want to raise expectations,” said Paterson, who noted that he lowered expectations when he took over the Democratic conference in 2002, ending the idea that the minority needed to win six seats all in one fell swoop.

“I don’t necessarily think that has to happen,” the former governor continued. “…when you have less resources…you have to have a plan that’s sometimes more pragmatic than hopeful.”

This is not in keeping with the message being put out by DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris, who has been insisting that the Democrats have a good shot at winning enough seats to take back the majority.

Paterson also spoke of the need to unify the Democratic Party, and he praised the IDC, saying that its members “understood the budget crisis better” than their fellow conference members back when he was in the governor’s office.

“Especially in the marginal areas, we need those voices,” Paterson said, stressing that he would, of course, like to see the IDC members return to the fold because “they won on the Democratic line.”

He said he has not yet had a chance to speak to IDC Leader Jeff Klein about the possibility of a reunification – a move that seems unlikely at this point, since the regular Democrats are supporting primary challengers against two IDC members. (Former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell vs. Klein and former NYC Comptroller John Liu vs. Sen. Tony Avella).

Paterson said he needs to speak to the members of the statewide ticket – AG Eric Schneiderman, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Gov. Andrew Cuomo – before settling on “what the important races are this year.”

The former governor compared the Democratic Party to the Miami Heat, saying that when a team has been on a long winning streak, “you want to keep wining…but often there’s a surge to defeat you.”

Paterson: ‘So You Thought You Were Rid Of Me’

Former Gov. David Paterson on Wednesday was formally installed by the state Democratic Committee as its next chairman, assuming the post from Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright.

Paterson, addressing the delegates on the first day of the Democratic convention here in Melville, naturally opened with a joke.

“So you thought you were rid of me,” Paterson said.

A woman in the crowd yelled, “We love you David.”

Paterson, not missing a beat, said: “Give it a few minutes.”

It was only four years ago that Paterson declined to run for re-election as Democrats in the state coalesced around Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Now Paterson is assuming a more overtly political role for Cuomo, and his speech reflected that, hitting on similar themes the state party wants to get across at the convention.

Democrats are trying to tie state Republicans in New York to national “tea party” GOP lawmakers in Washington.

“I actually could like Republicans if they were really Republicans,” Paterson said, charging that today’s GOP has “extremists on one side of the party are controlling the whole.”

Paterson pointed to Republicans of the past like Sen. Jacob Javits who were more moderate in their politics.

“We respect their point of view,” Paterson said of mainstream Republicans. “I’m talking about an insensitive point of view that is based on a hateful ideology.”

And he knocked Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino for presiding over one of the highest taxed counties in the nation.

“This is like getting Bernie Madoff to run the SEC,” he said.

There were still moments of Paterson being Paterson, including a brief aside when his cell phone.

“My phone just rang,” he said mid-speech, “I wonder who it was.”

He did not answer the phone.

Paterson’s Portrait To Be Unveiled Sunday

Former Gov. David Paterson will have his official portrait unveiling on Sunday, according to an invitation for the event obtained by Capital Tonight.

The event is expected to include Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is listed as a “special guest.”

The unveiling is due to take place at 2:30 p.m. in the War Room of the state Capitol on the second floor.

With Paterson’s portrait going up and the recent additions of likenesses of former Govs. George Pataki and Mario Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer is the only modern-era governor to not have his likeness hanging in the Hall of Governors on the second floor.

Paterson, the state’s first black governor and the only legally blind one to serve, was elevated to the office following the resignation of Spitzer in the midst of a prostitution scandal.

It is a remarkably fast turnaround for Paterson’s portrait to be unveiled, considering he left office in 2011 and was even discussing the possibility of a portrait two years ago.

It is unclear who paid for the portrait (it’s traditional for supporters of former governors to raise the funds necessary to cover the cost) and who painted it.

Governor David Paterson Invitation – March 2 2014 (2) by Nick Reisman

No Congressional Run For Paterson

Former Gov. David Paterson ruled out a run for the Harlem seat held by longtime Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Paterson said he hoped Rangel would run for another two-year term later this year as he mulls whether to run for re-election and interviews potential successors.

And he praised Rangel as an “exemplary leader.”

“Since leaving the Governor’s office I have had the good fortune to explore many exciting opportunities in broadcasting and other private endeavors while continuing to be active in public service at the MTA and also finding time to travel and spend time with loved ones. I anticipate a number of exciting opportunities in the coming weeks and months, but running for Congress will not be one of them.”

For what it’s worth, Assemblyman Keith Wright — who has also been named as a potential Rangel successor — has said he’s certain the 83-year-old will run again.

Paterson currently has a drive-time radio show co-hosted with Guadrian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.

The full statement:

As a long-time resident of Harlem I have always had a very strong affinity for the issues and events that impact the 13th Congressional District. I have also always believed that answering the call to public service is an endeavor that can only be undertaken at one hundred percent capacity, unwavering in the commitment required to effectively represent those that would elect someone to lead. Over the past months speculation surrounding the possibility of attempting to potentially succeed Congressman Charles Rangel has arisen and, with the 2014 election cycle rapidly approaching, I would like to make it clear that I have no intention of running for Congress in the 13th District, either now or in the future.

Since leaving the Governor’s office I have had the good fortune to explore many exciting opportunities in broadcasting and other private endeavors while continuing to be active in public service at the MTA and also finding time to travel and spend time with loved ones. I anticipate a number of exciting opportunities in the coming weeks and months, but running for Congress will not be one of them.

Further, Charles Rangel has been an exemplary leader in our community and continues to fight every day for the people throughout the entirety of the district. It is my hope that he will run for re-election and continue to be our representative in Washington.

Paterson Thinks Spitzer Will Be Back

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer will be back, his one-time lieutenant governor predicted this morning in a radio show interview.

David Paterson, who was elevated to the governor’s office after Spitzer resigned following a prostitution scandal, predicted his ex-boss would bounce back from his loss in the Democratic primary for city comptroller to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

Paterson believes that had Spitzer entered the race earlier as opposed to July, the 52 pecent to 48 percent would have been different.

“I think he can run again,” Paterson said on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show. ”I think if he started at the same time earlier in the year, he came so close, it would have been a different outcome.”

Whether that means a primary campaign statewide in 2014 against sitting Democrats like Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman or Gov. Andrew Cuomo even, well, that’s unclear, Paterson said.

“I don’t think he will come back that quickly, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of former Governor Eliot Spitzer,” Paterson said.

Still, a primary campaign statewide against for Spitzer seems outlandish and unrealistic.

Former aides to the ex-governor say he has received offers from different media outlets to contribute in some form, and expect he’ll want to stay in the public eye.

The former governor, who now has a new radio show with Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, praised Stringer as “an excellent candidate” who he had endorsed during the primary over Spitzer.

Paterson attributed Spitzer’s loss to a for-hire field operation and compared the campaign to Spitzer’s only other failing effort, his 1994 run for attorney general.

“He comes in late, tries to literally throw money at the election,” Paterson said.

Paterson also predicted what many observers had believed, that a Comptroller Spitzer would have been a major thorn in the side of whoever won the mayoralty.

“Had Eliot Spitzer had won as comptroller, he would have been an automatic threat to whoever is going to be elected mayor in four years because he is one who is not afraid to attack sacred cows,” he said.

Paterson: Press Trying To ‘Humiliate’ Spitzer

Former Gov. David Paterson is holding fast to his endorsement of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for city comptroller, but he is still refusing to criticize his one-time boss, Eliot Spitzer.

Paterson told Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter this morning in a radio interview that the press in New York City — especially The New York Post, The Daily News and The New York Times — are trying to

“They have this rule that if you endorse Scott Stringer you have to say something bad about Eliot Spitzer and I’m not going to do that,” Paterson said in the interview.

Paterson held a formal endorsement news conference alongside Stringer on Monday, though it was noted on this blog and elsehwere that he would make any critiques of Spitzer or say whether Stringer would make a better comptroller.

Paterson had endorsed Stringer before Spitzer’s semi-surprise entry into the race last month.

Today, Paterson wouldn’t say if he would have backed Spitzer instead if he had entered the campaign earlier.

The conflict, in part, is easy to see, given that Spitzer elevated Paterson from Senate minority leader to lieutenant governor, who then became the state’s first black governor following the March 2008 resignation.

At the same time, Paterson’s time as governor was rocky to say the least and he was clearly relieved to finally leave Albany in January 2011 when Andrew Cuomo took office.

“I endorsed him and I stuck to my endorsement when the former governor entered the race,” Paterson said.

He ripped into the media for its treatment of Spitzer, suggesting he was also sympathetic to the former governor, who he says he still sees.

“The allegedly reports the news, but in this race the media is trying to make the news,” Paterson said while adding the city’s major dailies “are going to just destroy and humiliate Eliot Spitzer.”

Paterson also claimed the press is rooting for a Spitzer victory in the comptroller’s race wondering what the media would do should he lose this fall.

“I betcha they’re home at night, hanging on to their dolls, hoping he wins,” he said.

Paterson is a high-profile African-American endorsement for Stringer, who polls show lags Spitzer among minority voters. A PAC has been set up to aid Stringer that is specifically targeting minority voters.

Paterson joked he wanted to form a “group therapy session” for black voters and others who support underdog candidates.

“The African-American community tends to support people who are under attack,” Paterson said.