NEW YORK governor David Paterson, who repeatedly and defiantly said he would let voters decide if he should run the state, abruptly quit his nascent election bid yesterday amid a stalled agenda, faltering popularity and criticism of his handling of a domestic abuse case involving one of his most trusted aides.
Democratic officials in Washington and a person briefed by Paterson in New York were informed of his plans early yesterday. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because Paterson had not publicly disclosed his decision.
Paterson, who had publicly prided himself on beating the odds, including overcoming blindness to rise through treacherous New York politics, formally announced his campaign last weekend but faced mounting calls to drop out of the race in the midst of controversy. A top aide is ensnared in a domestic violence scandal, the governor was finding dwindling support in his own party and his campaign bank account paled in size to those of his rivals.
Paterson became governor in 2008, when Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal. Paterson’s decision paves the way for Andrew Cuomo to make an unimpeded run for the Democratic nomination.
“The governor isn’t feeling pushed out,” said a person who talked with the governor about his decision and who spoke to the reporters on condition of anonymity. “He certainly realises it’s very difficult to do a campaign and govern, and the focus now is on governing and the best interests of the state.”
Paterson was the scion of a Harlem political power base that included his father, former state Secretary of State BasilPaterson; the late Percy Sutton, who was Manhattan borough president; Rep Adam Clayton Powell; former mayor David Dinkins; and embattled US Rep Charles Rangel.
Now, Paterson’s gubernatorial campaign will end amid a domestic violence scandal involving a trusted aide from Harlem, David Johnson. More than a decade ago, Paterson took Johnson on as an intern as part of his efforts to bring youths snared in Harlem’s crack epidemic to give them a second chance.
On Wednesday, the most alarming call for Paterson to end his campaign came from state Senator Bill Perkins, the Democrat in Paterson’s old Harlem seat.
“The crisis we are suffering in this state and in the community is being distracted by these reports and very, very serious allegations,” Perkins said.
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