The New York Political Scene And Barack Obama’s Intervention

New York is a strongly Democratic state, with all but two Congressmen now being Democrats, and two Democratic senators and a Democratic governor.

But New York has been tormented by controversy–first with former Governor Eliot Spitzer being forced out of office because of a sex scandal involving a prostitute; then the controversy over the replacement of Hillary Clinton in her Senate seat; and then with the quick rapid collapse of public opinion around Governor David Paterson, who succeeded Spitzer when he resigned.

Paterson has come across as inept and ineffective in the Governorship in the nearly 18 months he has been Governor, and there is real concern that the Democrats could lose both the Governor’s office and the Senate seat of Kirsten Gillibrand, Hillary Clinton’s appointed successor, in 2010.

The loss of the Governorship could hurt some Congressmen state wide as well, and that could affect reapportionment of seats both in the House of Representatives and in the state legislature, if the GOP wins control of the State Senate, which they briefly controlled this past summer when a couple of Democrats briefly switched parties before going back to the party that elected them. The state legislature came across as totally inept and chaotic, and New York does not present a very impressive image right now, which is an embarrassment to many who regard New York as one of the premier states of the Union.

The danger is that it is likely that former Mayor Rudy Guiliani may challenge Governor Paterson, and in any poll, wins over the governor, who only has in most polls about a 20 percent rating. Also, the possibility exists that former Governor George Pataki may challenge Senator Gillibrand, and has a lead in polls on that race.

This situation would greatly change if Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of the former governor Mario Cuomo, and very popular in all polls, was to be the nominee for Governor. The belief is that if he was the nominee and did not have to deal with a divisive primary race against Paterson, that he could beat any opponent, and that Guiliani might not even run if Cuomo was known to be his opponent. Also, Cuomo could help Gillibrand, and might convince Pataki not to run for the Senate, and hopefully, most of the congressional seats and state legislative seats would be safe, as well.

So the fact that there has been pressure from the Obama Administration for Paterson NOT to run may be embarrassing, but makes sense for the long term future of the Democrats in New York and nationally. The hope is that Governor Paterson will see the handwriting on the wall and will withdraw from a race for election, and maybe end up with some position that President Obama can offer him in 2011.

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