Spitzer’s term, cut short after allegations surfaced that he hired a call girl from a high-priced escort service, officially ended at noon yesterday.
He resigned last week, a stunning fall from power for the crusader who vowed to rid the state capitol of corruption.
At his swearing-in as the state’s 55th governor,
Paterson used his inaugural speech to project confidence and optimism, while relating his own personal struggles to New York’s ability to overcome challenges, said an aide.
Paterson becomes the state’s first black governor and would be the nation’s first legally blind chief executive to serve more than a few days.
US President George W Bush gave Paterson a congratulatory call yesterday. “He said that his friends in New York had told him that while it is a big job, that you can handle it,” said White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Bush said he “knows that Lieutenant Governor Paterson will be able to do a great job and that he looks forward to meeting him soon”.
After acknowledging what a difficult week it has been for the state, Paterson planned to talk about the need for Republicans and his fellow Democrats to work together to address pressing issues, including the state budget.
The new governor was Spitzer’s lieutenant for just 14 months.
Paterson has been a Democratic state senator since 1985, representing parts of Harlem and Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He graduated from New York’s Columbia University and Hofstra School of Law.
His father, Basil, a former state senator representing Harlem and later New York’s first black secretary of state, was part of a political fraternity that included fellow Democrats such as New York Congressman Charles Rangel, former New York City mayor David Dinkins — the city’s first black mayor — and former Manhattan borough president Percy Sutton.
“It is very daunting,” said Paterson on Friday.
“I definitely feel anxiety... but in the end, we have a job to do. And we’re here to do that job.”
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors must still decide whether to pursue charges against Spitzer.