Tag Archives: New York politics

From Spitzer to Paterson; A Tale of Two Governors and a State That is Screwed

Bookmark and Share  May we have a moment of silence please.

The announcement that Governor David Paterson of New York will close shop on his week old effort to be elected to his first full term as the state’s chief executive warrants a certain degree of reflection.

It is the final note to an Administration that has brought nothing but shame, despair, economic ruin and an unprecedented level of shattered confidence in government in the minds of New Yorkers from Brooklyn to Buffalo.

It started almost four years ago when three term Republican Governor George Pataki took a pass on running for a fourth term and retired. An ill prepared Republican Party had no one in the wings to step in and convincingly argue the merits of continued Republican stewardship of the Empire State. So they went with Dan Faso . After serving for a time as the New York State Assembly Minority Leader, Faso spent a few years becoming known as a perennial candidate for state wide office. His perennial status was earned because of his repeated attempts for statewide office that were followed by his repeated failure to win. But since Rudy Giuliani decided against a run, Republicans had no one to turn to accept Faso.

Democrats however had the shinning star of the Democrat party. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer spent the previous 4 years going after Wall Street and making a name for himself as a tough, no-nonsense, law and order guy who was looking out for the little guy. A better image could not have been crafted by the greatest of political consultants. So before any nominees were officially chosen, Spitzer’s elevation to Governor was a foregone conclusion. So sure was his victory that Spitzer decided he didn’t need a big name achiever to back him up as Lieutenant. Governor. So he took a different route, one that would allow him to pick a relatively obscure State Senator. He was black, he was blind and he had no real enemies. It was a perfect situation. The handicapped African-American balanced the ticket ethnically and his personal story added a compassionate twist to the campaign.

Unfortunately things are not always what they seem though.

Spitzer was not the tough law and order guy people thought he was and Patterson, well with him, in time people would come to find out why he was a relatively obscure state senator.

About a year into Spitzer’s term, suspicious bank transfers of large sums of money by the Governor, triggered an FBI investigation which eventually found that the Governor was involved in hiring prostitutes and to make matters worse, doing so across state lines, which elevated the nature of his illegal conduct to a federal level. The good thing was that he wasn’t pimping or hiring them for others. He was just illegally hiring them for himself.

The disclosure took the shine off of Spitzer’s image faster than you could say Ashley Dupree, the name of the call girl that had been able to call Spitzer one of her regulars.

Promptly, Spitzer’s rising star fell and his swollen ego burst as he resigned from office and left New York in the hands of his Lieutenant. Governor, David Paterson.

Although Paterson initially had a rather disarming, dry, and amusing, self depredating, sense of humor, he quickly found himself the center of a developing scandal that involved state troopers and their possible leaking of some unsavory information about the new accidental governor. Paterson got out in front of the story though. He publicly announced that at some point during his marriage he and his wife drifted apart and had separate affairs. After a prying media beat the story to death, Paterson and the public came to accept the fact that those personal problems in the past were just that, in the past, and did not reflect on the stability his loving marriage now or his ability to govern.

But then came the job of governing.

This is where Paterson’s humor could not save him.

He quickly became overwhelmed by economic downturns and political strife. On the economic front, Paterson’s answer to everything was to raise taxes and even invent new taxes on things like carbonated beverages. With a state full of people that were already hurting economically, making things tougher for them was not going over well.

Meanwhile, a unique set of circumstances which saw Democrats take majority control of the state senate for the first time in decades, created an internal power struggle that had one New York Democrat State Senator switch parties and give control back to the Republicans. Democrats played a game of locking the senate chamber and for a few weeks no business was conducted. It became apparent to everyone that not only was David Paterson unable to effectively handle the state of state, he could not even control his own Party. In fact because of his Party all business in state government came to a halt.

Finally, Democrats, without the help of Paterson, worked out their own arrangement, the renegade Democrat who switched to the GOP came back home and swore allegiance to the Party he was screwing with.

But this did not stop New York from continuing to take a nose dive.

The state was in an obvious tailspin, Paterson was at war with the state legislature, he was threatening to raise more taxes, cut school budgets and avoid focusing on any relief for overtaxed, underemployed New Yorkers. This did not go unnoticed by the White House, where weary political strategists are concerned with what will prove to be a very tough midterm election year for Democrats. So quite arrogantly, the Obama Administration sent out the word that they did not want Paterson to stand for reelection. Clearly his presence on any Democrat ticket would be a drain not only on their chances of keeping the Governor’s mansion but also on the two US Senate seats up for grabs in the state as well as quite a few highly competitive House races. In his place, the White House wanted popular State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to run.

Paterson rejected the signal and defiantly vowed to run for Governor. On several occasions he even stated that the only way he was being taken out of the office of governor was either feet first in a box or by defeat at the ballot box.

The more time that went by, the worse things got for Paterson. It became clear that Paterson was unable to control circumstances but was instead being controlled by circumstances. Lacking any political appeal, public sense of leadership or political innovation, Democrats throughout the state were asking Paterson to not run. But he persisted.

Then last week, he set up a sparsely attended, low energy rally to announce his candidacy for Governor. The event was held at his alma mater, Hofstra University, on Long Island. The school administration sent memo’s to students, begging them to show up, but in the end, Paterson’s campaign kickoff was more like a wake than a rally.

Still, undeterred, Paterson spent the last week trying to find any kind of momentum he possible could. But before he could look too far, scandal erupted again. And again it involved state troopers.

This time it was reported that one of Paterson’s closets aides had been involved in a domestic assault with his wife. State troopers were involved, and at some point, Paterson was in touch with the close aide’s wife and persuading her to let the situation go and resist seeking any restraining orders against her husbands, Paterson‘s aide and friend..

Unkown to the public, an investigation regarding any inappropriate involvement by the Governor was being conducted and for more than two weeks, it was rumored that the New York Times did have some sort of bombshell revelation about the Governor.

That investigation was apparently part of it and as the Times began to release their bombshell revelation, things quickly unraveled.

Paterson’s Deputy Secretary for Public Safety abruptly resigned and issued the following message:

“The fact that the Governor and members of the State Police have acknowledged direct contact with a woman who had filed for an order of protection against a senior member of the Governor’s staff is a very serious matter,”

She added;

“These actions are unacceptable regardless of their intent.”

This announcement came after Paterson apparently admitted to talking to the woman who was the victim of the domestic assault carried out by her husband, Paterson’s confidant. At first Paterson publicly stated that the events in question were not forcing him to end his campaign but that he was going to be meeting with leaders throughout the state and talking the issue over with them.

Within hours, Paterson came back and closed down his campaign for Governor.

But still defiant, Paterson refuses to resign from office, despite calls from many state and Party officials to do so. If he does end up resigning or being charged with a crime, Richard Ravitch will assume the office of Governor.

Ravitch was a whole other story that went all the way to state supreme court.

Apparently state lawmakers, particularly Paterson’s Democrat friends in the state senate, argued that Paterson, having not been elected and only assuming office as Lieutenant Governor, had no power to appoint a Lieutenant Governor. Indeed there was no precedence for the situation. In the end, the state supreme court ruled in Paterson’s favor and Ravitch became Lieutenant Governor and is now on the verge of becoming the third Governor of New York in a little over three years.

So as this saga draws to a close, it does indeed deserve a moment of silence. For the end of a disastrous string of transfers of power, legal battles, power struggles, political infighting and unbridled irresponsibility may finally be put out of its misery.

But there are two things worth noting here.

Despite Democrat’s total control of the state and the illegal conduct, reckless behavior, irrational political power plays and total inability to lead New York, Republicans still can’t get there act together in the state. For too long they have been sitting on their arses waiting for Rudy Giuliani to come in and be coroneted. Well guess what? Once again, Rudy isn’t rushing in to save the day. So the lesson is never allow a party to be build itself around any one individual. The New York GOP has been trying to do that for years with Rudy Giuliani and where has it gotten them? About 20 or more points behind Andrew Cuomo with the likely Republican Rick Lazio.

Lazio is a great guy. He was Hillary Clinton’s opponent in her first race for Senate in New York.

Lazio is a terrific candidate and he has my support and my deepest hope for success. However, the state G.O.P.’s lack of laying down of any ground work, will make defeating Andrew Cuomo, the son of former three term Governor Mario Cuomo, almost impossible. But that’s what happens when you rely on one person, namely Rudy Giuliani, to do it all for you.

The other lesson here is that in addition to leaving the Governors office, as he said, either by ballot or feet first in a box, there is a third option for David Paterson. He could leave the office of Governor with his hands in cuffs……an option that is looking more and more possible with each passing hour.

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President Stirs The Pot In New York and Takes Sides In Race For Governor

Bookmark and Share    President Obama spent the day in New York. With a scheduled appearance at opening ceremonies of the United Nations general assembly, the President made the most of his time in the state. He had a scheduled speech on the economy in upstate New York, a private reception, his appearance at the U.N. and finally, President turns on Governoran appearance on the David Letterman Show in the old Ed Sullivan theater.

On Letterman he will continue to make his pitch for government control of health management and care but so far, of most interest is not his appearance on Letterman or his appearance at the U.N.. The most interesting part of the President’s New York field trip hasn’t even been what he said as he delivered a speech on the economy which discussed making investments in education and research. What is most noteworthy on this trip are the telling signs of a President trying to make sure that the wheels don’t fall off his bandwagon as the 2010 midterm elections approach.

After reports that the President wants New York Governor David Paterson to drop efforts to keep his job surfaced on Sunday, signs of that desire revealed itself even more on Monday.

Before delivering his speech in Troy, New York, President Obama began by acknowledging the presence of dignitaries in the audience. He stated, Governor David Paterson is in the house and went on to simply say “he’s a wonderful man”. That statement was quickly followed by the mention of State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s presence. But unlike with Paterson who President Obama called a wonderful man, in referencing Cuomo, the President went into a glowing description of Cuomo which included statements such as “ he is doing great work for the people of New York”.

With Paterson mired in plummeting poll numbers, Andrew Cuomo is seen by the White House as a much better name to head up the Democrat ticket in New York next year. Reports claimed that the President so much as sent that message to Governor Paterson, who when asked if that was true, responded that he has spoken to the White House but will not reveal the details of any private conversations. Paterson did add that he was running for Governor regardless of any speculation.

The fact that the White House would step into a developing intra-party battle for a nomination is not a normal occurrence. Even more unusual here is the fact that David Paterson is one of only two African-American governors in the country. The sensitivities of that fact would normally prompt praise and encouragement, especially for a man who took the reigns of control after a scandal that rocked New York.

The uniqueness of the White House’s attempt to push Paterson out can only be due to fears that the upcoming 2010 midterm elections are going to be devastating to the administration and the Democrat Party nationwide. Not only is there the risk of losing seats in the House of Representatives but there exists a great risk of losing several seats in the U.S. Senate. Most prominent of all being the election to fill out Secretary of State Clinton’s New York Senate seat.

That seat is currently being kept warm by the Kristen Gillibrand, the hand picked choice of Governor Paterson. Her maintaining the seat could be in jeopardy if a Cuomo vs. Paterson primary for governor took place. Such a race could prompt a primary for the Democrat nomination against Gillibrand and her being seen as Paterson’s candidate will not help her win.

Another factor that would come into play if Paterson were to primary Cuomo is race. Many African-Americans could split their support and if Paterson were to lose, there is the risk that many African-American voters would hold Cuomo responsible for that loss and stay at home during the general election. That would severely suppress the vote totals for Democrats in all races for Senate and Congress, thereby allowing viable Republican candidates the chance to pull together higher vote totals than their Democrat opponents.

All of this obviously deeply concerns President Obama. So much so that he is throwing Governor David Paterson under the bus and taking unprecedented steps to stop the hemorrhaging that they expect in 2010.

With no comment from the President on what he did or didn’t tell Governor Paterson, the President’s effusive praise of Cuomo and tepid acknowledgment of David Paterson said much more than his words.

If that was not enough of a sign that the President wants to push Paterson out of office, after his speech on the economy the President held a private reception. Invited to it was Andrew Cuomo. Conveniently not invited was Governor Paterson.

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White House Addresses “The David Paterson Problem” And Braces For Midterm Election Losses

Bookmark and Share    As the White House wraps up a summer that saw the luster taken off their image, the administration is beginning to brace itself for a beating.

demsin distressIn what can only be interpreted as an attempt to stop what the President’s strategists see as troubling mid-term election results, members of the administration have addressed what the call “The David Paterson Problem” and asked New York Governor David Paterson to pull out of next year’s race for Governor and on Monday the President’s chief strategist will meet privately meet with the Governor.

According to the New York Times “The decision to ask Mr. Paterson to step aside was proposed by political advisers to Mr. Obama, but approved by the president himself”

The Times confirmed that the President is concerned with Governor Paterson’s standing in the state and quote one source as saying “The president’s request (for Paterson to not run) was conveyed to the Mr. Paterson by Representative Gregory W. Meeks, a Queens Democrat, who has developed a strong relationship with the Obama administration”.

In a WCBS radio interview, Governor Paterson did confirm that he has had private conversations with the administration but he stated that he will not discuss the content of any private conversations.

The request for Paterson to step aside and not run is an extraordinary one. Normally, Presidents do not make such requests. On the rare occasion that they have, the reasoning was due to the involvement of criminal conduct. The drama involving impeached former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is such an example. However; in this case, although Paterson came into office because of the criminal conduct of his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, such is not the reason the administration is urging Paterson to drop out. The reasons are purely political and a sign of a White House that is preparing for a bruising in 2010.

Paterson’s poll number are horrific. A Siena Research Institute poll found 55 percent of registered voters had an unfavorable opinion of the governor while only 32 percent viewed him favorably. The same poll also makes it clear that Paterson’s likely opponent for the job, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, trounces the Governor in a head to head match up.

These numbers do not concern the White House in so far as how they pertain to Paterson personally.

They concern the White House because these numbers scare the hell out of them in regards to how poorly Paterson’s presence effect will  congressional races, down ticket from the race for governor next year, during mid-term elections.

In addition to all members of the House of Representatives being up for relection, New York has two races for U.S. Senate being held. One is for the expired term of New York state’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer and the other is to fill out the unexpired term of former Senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In that race, Democrats will be trying to keep Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in office. Giilibrand was the hand picked choice who Paterson appointed to the fill the vacancy.

Clearly if the President hopes to at least keep some of his parties congressional and senate seats from New York, a strong top of their ticket will be crucial. It is also clear to him and his political strategists that having David Paterson at the top of the ballot will not make for a “strong” ticket, it will make for a disastrous one.

Given all the facts, fear can be the only reason for the almost unprecedented White House request for a sitting Governor of their own party to step aside. The administration is apparently fearful of a repeat of the 1994 mid-term elections which brought Republicans in control of both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. Much of the reasoning for that occurrence was do in large part to the then Clinton administration’s attempt to, much like this administration, adopt partisan health management and care reform.

As the President’s own numbers become wobbly and as Democrats tie HR 3200 to their hip, the political wing of the President’s staff is apparently trying to avoid a repeat of history in next year’s elections. The request for Paterson to step aside is just the first sign of that.

Under normal circumstances a sitting President would not ask one of the only two African-American governors in the country to step aside. And under normal circumstances even bad poll numbers would not prompt such a request. Case in point: New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has poll numbers that almost parallel David Paterson’s. Yet despite those poor polling numbers, President Obama has been steadfast behind Governor Corzine as he runs for reelection this year. The President has even shown up for a rally in support of Corzine. But the Governor of New Jersey is not running for reelection next year when congressional seats are up for grabs. That means Corzine’s lagging candidacy is not a threat to the balance of power in Washington. Not yet anyway.

These facts demonstrate that the White House is scared and that strategists for the President are trying to stop the hemorrhaging of support and popularity that could punish Democrats next November. If such was not the case President Obama would be cheering Governor Paterson on and urging him to keep up the good work, even without there being much good work to speak of.

Of course, in light of the arguments of the left, President Obama’s request for Governor Paterson to step aside could be blamed on racism. If President Carter is right about the reason for people disagreeing with President Obama being because Obama is black, than clearly the reason President Obama disagrees with Paterson is because he is black. Or maybe the President has prejudices against the blind and disagrees with David Paterson because he is legally blind.

Personally I will give President Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is not asking the incumbent New York Governor to give up attempts to run again because of his color or disability. That would leave the fear factor as the reason for the unusual actions of the White House.

For his part, Governor Paterson told WCBS Radio News, that he is running for Governor and has no plans on pulling out. That will make for an interesting New York primary.

Former Governor Mario Cuomo’s son Andrew Cuomo, the state’s Attorney General, is likely to defeat Paterson and secure the Democrat nomination for Governor. But such a primary will create a divide that will form along lines of race. It could also effect Kristen Gillibrand’s election. Some Democrats are looking at a challenging her for the Democrat nomination. If that challenge were to materialize, as David Paterson’s candidate, Kristen Gillibrand could have some trouble of her own on her hands.

Strategically, the implications of Paterson’s refusal to step aside and to continue with an inevitable primary, are problematic. The unorthodox steps that President Obama has taken by interjecting himself into the New York gubernatorial primary is proof of just how problematic. It is also a sign that the President and Democrat strategists are beginning to sweat.     Bookmark and Share

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U.S. Senate Employment- ABILITY NOT REQUIRED

CAROLINE KENNEDY - The Most Qualified New Yorker forthe Job?

CAROLINE KENNEDY - The Most Qualified New Yorker forthe Job?

Does anyone really believe that Caroline Kennedy is the most qualified person in New York to represent the interests of New Yorkers in the United States Senate?

Assuming, for a moment, that she was not a Kennedy, would the replacement Governor of New York, David Paterson, be considering her for the position?

I think not.

But politics is a strange and twisted business.

Take for example David Paterson’s ascension to the Governor’s office.

Paterson was the son of a locally well known New York State Senator, Basil Paterson. Before Basil resigned from his senate seat, he pulled some strings and positioned his son David in the District Attorney’s office in Manhattan.

In 1985 David resigned from the D.A.’s office to work on the campaign of David Dinkins for Manhattan Borough President. Dinkins later became one of the city’s worst Mayors ever, served one term and was ultimately defeated for re-election by Rudy Giuliani.

After Dinkins’ campaign for Borough President, Leon Bogues who succeeded Basil Paterson in the state senate died. Subsequently a hastily prepared special election to fill the vacant seat was held.

With fifty eight percent of the districts Democrat County Committee behind him, David Paterson received the nomination for his fathers senate seat.

This senate district covers parts of Manhattan including Harlem, so it is staunchly liberal.  As such,  the Democrat nomination is tantamount to winning the election and David did.

In 2006, the state’s Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer sought the Democrat party’s nomination for Governor. With many high profile, Wall street crimes successfully prosecuted by Spitzer, he was the party’s rising star. In fact many saw him as a future national leader for Democrats. His race for the nomination was anything but a race. With one opponent Spitzer won the nomination in a landslide and with a Republican of little recognition and even less money, Spitzer was assured of winning the Governor’s race.

That in mind, he selected David Paterson to be his running mate. The selection of Paterson helped to win favor with minorities and the liberal wing of the party. As an African -American who established an ultra liberal following, the addition of Paterson to the ticket allowed Elliot the freedom to not have to campaign too far to the left. Thereby allowing him to speak to those in the middle without turning them off  by publicly addressing liberal concerns.

With Paterson on the ticket, Spitzer knew liberals would be behind him.

And they were. As expected Elliot Spitzer won in a landslide election.

But that landslide victory quickly turned into a even quicker and more dramatic fall from grace as the earth shifted again and Spitzer was forced to resign from office after it was discovered that he was hiring call girls for, shall we say,  nongovernmental business.

And that is how David Paterson became Governor.

Now as Governor, David Paterson finds himself in the position of appointing  someone to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate.

That situation, in and of itself, is another stroke of luck for David Paterson.

After losing the nomination for President, New York Democrats wanted assurances that Hillary would not challenge David Paterson for the nomination for Governor of New York in 2010.

They never got that assurance until Barack Obama took care of that for them and nominated Hillary for Secretary of State.

Of course Paterson could  feel that a challenge to his nomination for re-election is not yet resolved with Clinton out of the picture.  Andrew Cuomo’s desire for the job could pose a threat but if Paterson appointed Cuomo to the U.S. Senate, he too would be taken out of the picture thereby assuring Paterson the nomination.

So what of her replacement?

Well a look at David Paterson’s rise to power would indicate the rationale behind choosing Caroline Kennedy.

Paterson did little to get the job that he now has.

He entered politics through the political strings pulled by his father and came to political office through his fathers name. And ultimately he became a governor because of a vacancy in the seat.

So why not select Caroline Kennedy?  She has the Kennedy name and there is a vacancy.

So putting qualifications aside, there is absolutely no reason not to select her but quite a few reasons for Paterson to do so.

The first being, by appointing Caroline Kennedy to the U.S. Senate, Paterson will be winning the favor of Kennedy’s allover the country. That means plenty of money in his bid for re-election.

The second reason is perception. As a Kennedy, Caroline is adored. Regardless of issues or her positions on the issues, the public perceives her as a symbol. As the last surviving child of an adored, martyred President, Caroline Kennedy is a figure few want to oppose. So she is a safe choice that spares Paterson a great deal of criticism.

 Additionally, after choosing Caroline for the senate seat, a race against Andrew Cuomo probably would not be a much of race. Paterson would have the backing of both U.S. Senators form New York, Chuck Schumer and Caroline Kennedy. He would also have their organizational and financial support as well as that of all the Kennedy’s.

So given the logic of politics, whether Caroline Kennedy is qualified or not, really doesn’t matter. Qualifications are not a factor. If they were David Paterson might be considering New Yorkers with expertise in areas that need leadership like our economy. Why not consider New Yorker Donald Trump? If Mike Bloomberg is such a great Mayor of New York City, why not appoint him to the senate? Why not replace one Clinton with another?  Bill is available.  It is not unprecedented for a former President to serve in congress and if he is so great, why not him?

I am not saying I want any of those characters in the U.S. Senate but why not consider them?

The answer simply is that qualifications are not a factor.

As Peter King, a New York congressman from Long Island said “ if name identification is a qualification, why not pick J-lo?”. Jennifer Lopez has plenty of name recognition.

He’s right.

I do not know where Caroline Kennedy stands on the issues. I do know that of all the Kennedy’s she is my favorite. There is nothing to dislike about her. So she comes to the table with a clean slate with me. But is her name really a reason to suggest that she is the most qualified New Yorker to help shape the future of our nation?

Realistically, no, but politics has little to do with the reality of national concerns. Politics is personal and it revolves around the personal ambitions of individuals in government, not the people who are effected by government.

So why not Caroline Kennedy? It could be worse. MoveOn.org founder and liberal lunatic, George Soros is a New York resident.

Considered the 55th richest person in the world and one of the three wealthiest in New York, with a net worth of 7.2 billion dollars he could certainly finance the success of a political careers including David Paterson. But who will assure the success of our nation?

While some play name games and others try to auction off elected offices, who will assure us that the best people represent us?  Certainly not those who are already in office.

punchline-politics21

At the height of a political corruption trial, the prosecuting attorney attacked
a witness.

“Isn’t it true,” he bellowed, “that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?”

The witness stared out the window as though he hadn’t heard the question.

“Isn’t it true that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?” the lawyer repeated.

The witness still did not respond.

Finally, the judge leaned over and said, “Sir, please answer the question.”

“Oh,” the startled witness said, “I thought he was talking to you.”

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