End of the Road for Paterson as Governor

Despite a slew of headlines this morning that New York Gov. David Paterson (D) would press on after the long-awaited New York Times story was published, Fox News is now reporting that Paterson will not seek reelection.

This comes after Paterson, before the story was published, repeatedly and forcefully denied that he would get out of the race and accused the New York Times of slandering him, as rumors swirled of the pending Times story, which was speculated to be a potentially career-ending bombshell revelation of bad behavior by Paterson and his inner circle, though no one knew what it would contain.

In an interview with MSNBC earlier this week, Paterson said he's faced unfair rumors and unsubstantiated allegations the likes of which haven't been foisted upon any elected official in some time, questioning the Times' integrity.

Two weeks ago, Paterson beat back speculation that he wouldn't seek reelection, or that he might step down: "The only way I'm not gonna be governor next year is at the ballot box, and the only way that I'll be leaving office before is in a box," Paterson said at a press conference.

Then the Times story hit on Wednesday, detailing how a woman went to court alleging she was assaulted by a top Paterson aide--and then that she was harassed by state police to drop the case and got a visit from a member of Paterson's security detail. She reportedly got a phone call from Paterson and didn't appear at a subsequent court date.

The implication that Paterson may have pressured this woman to drop her case, to an uncertain degree--and that there was possibly an organized effort to harass her out of pursuing it--it appears, was the damaging story believed to be on its way, after all.

Paterson said last night that he would still seek reelection, despite poll numbers that showed he would be absolutely crushed by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) in a primary--on average, Cuomo leads Paterson 63% to 21.8%-- and this morning's headlines (such as this one) reported that Paterson would stay in the race.

Evidently not.

Paterson's exit solidifies Cuomo as the frontrunner to become New York's next governor--which he already was. Paterson's numbers were so low, in fact, that his presence in the race, even as an incumbent governor, was nearly inconsequential. The only question is whether Paterson's scandal somehow damages Cuomo, by virtue of being a Democrat.

For some time, Cuomo has polled well ahead of not only Paterson, but the potential Republican candidates too: he beats former Rep. Rick Lazio (R) by 35 percentage points, and he's 11 points ahead of Rudy Giuliani, the GOP big name most closely associated with the race (and Giuliani may be too occupied to run, since he accepted a consulting job helping Rio clean up its security situation for the 2016 Olympics).

The White House had wanted Paterson to step aside, for the sake of the Democratic Party's chances at retaining the NY governor's mansion. Looks like they've finally gotten their wish.

Thumbnail photo credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images