NY Dopers - Why the hate on Paterson?

I get it that Paterson is less than an impressive leader. However, he defaulted into a tough job under the worst possible circumstances at the worst possible time. I hazard to say that if the economic situation wasn’t as bad as it is, he probably wouldn’t be getting the shit-storm that is being thrown at him. The current “scandal” is so lame compared to what Joe Bruno and Sheldon Silver have been up to for all these years you have to wonder what is the basis for all of the abuse that Paterson is taking. Albany is a totally corrupt political snake-pit. The state government of New York should be bulldozed, razed, and rebuilt from scratch. It is only one half step above what goes on in places like Louisiana and Texas.

So, what is the story behind the story in regard to Paterson. I have no interest in defending him but what are the political motives behind those that are so viciously attacking him? (The NY Post is relentless but you have to assume that they are the butt-boy for Joe Bruno, who is beneath contempt.)

I’ve been wondering the same thing. I live in Massachusetts, so I’m not terribly close to New York politics, but I did go to college in the vicinity of Albany, so I do have some idea of what goes on. I recall that shortly after Paterson took office, Joe Bruno quit, which seems to me like an unequivocal victory for good government. Even under Spitzer, from what I can tell, that seemed impossible.

But, basically, I wonder why he’s so unpopular as well. Whoever was in office when he was was going to be stuck with a million problems, and he seems to have dealt with them as well as anyone could. Yeah, he’s making all sorts of unpopular cuts to state spending, but it’s not like he has any choice there. And his unpopularity seems to be rooted elsewhere, even if I can’t figure out where.

Also, he seems to have done all he could to push New York to recognize same-sex marriages, which he could have just bunted on, and which I certainly appreciate.

NY politics, at their best, are pretty dysfunctional. Paterson, who most people had never heard of prior to the Spitzer scandal, never had any kind of popularity to push through any sort of legislation. He chief of staff is now under investigation for domestic abuse and for misusing state resources to quiet the situation. The governor apparently knew some of it, and he’s getting tarred also. He never had a chance, and now that he’s dropped his re-election bid, he’s a lame duck for the next 10 months.

So to summarize:

  • low recognition and popularity from the start
  • horrible state economy
  • inability to control or influence the legislature to pass meaningful legislation
  • scandals

Also, the NY (and national) Dems pretty much can’t stand him, and don’t want him to run.


That about sums up his status and he has already declared himself a lame duck. Even if he had kept up his campaign he probably would have lost to Cuomo in the primary. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for the haters out there. He seems to be getting a huge amount of pressure to resign. What are his enemies hoping to accomplish? Why such vitriol in the first place?

Like a lot of incumbents governors, he’s taking a huge beating due to the economy. And people are dissatisfied with Albany because it’s a trainwreck. It’s been that way for a long time, but the perception is that some of the recent problems have come about because Paterson can’t lead.

On top of that, nobody planned on the guy being governor in the first place, so he didn’t have much support to start with. Spitzer was extremely popular for a little while, but he had run out of steam by the time he quit. It is true that Albany is a horrible mess, but Paterson has accomplished nothing and he’s looked bad doing it. Pretty first thing he did after getting elected was disclose some drug use and sleeping around while he and his wife were going through some marital problems. (They both had affairs.) The public was not sure why this guy was telling us this. He’d been governor for one day and it was not a good first impression. A few weeks ago, similar allegations appeared in the press again.

When Clinton resigned and he needed to appoint a new senator, he did not handle it well at all and it dragged on. He remained unpopular throughout his term, and finally, a few days after he decided to run, it turned out he’d tried to pressure a woman who was allegedly abused by his top adviser to drop an order of protection. (Short version: she was allegedly choked and hit by her boyfriend, who is his closest confidant. The head of his top security detail supposedly got in touch with her to ask her not to get an order of protection against the guy, and later, Paterson apparently called and talked to her himself.) I don’t think this is just the Post. It’s really sleazy and inappropriate behavior.

The source of the hate is that for an assortment of reasons he is not viewed by the party, the public and the media as highly-electable in the upcoming elections. This is particularly alarming to the democrats in the state because the state is left-leaning and there are perceived highly electable candidates out there.

I don’t follow my state’s politics too closely but I too have been wondering why he is so unpopular. I think the economy is a huge reason … He has proposed a lot of budget cuts that have alienated him from a lot of traditional Democratic constituents. At the same time, I think opponents on the Right feel he hasn’t made enough cuts, so basically he has managed to lose his base without picking up any significant other support.

The OP pretty much sums up the political situation in Albany. Paterson is just another average New York politician; you could dig up scandals on any of them if needed. In Paterson’s case he’s a target because he fell into the governorship; those who want to move into the void created by the departure of Spitzer and Bruno have to clear the field of those in the way. Various factions see Paterson as somebody who must be removed so they can put their candidate into the governor’s office.

Marley23 hit it on the nose.

While I don’t live in N.Y. I’ve been following Paterson’s messes in the N.Y. Times, for whom the latest scandal seems to have been the last straw.

*"Last fall, a woman went to court in the Bronx to testify that she had been violently assaulted by a top aide to Gov. David A. Paterson, and to seek a protective order against the man.

In the ensuing months, she returned to court twice to press her case, complaining that the State Police had been harassing her to drop it. The State Police, which had no jurisdiction in the matter, confirmed that the woman was visited by a member of the governor’s personal security detail.

Then, just before she was due to return to court to seek a final protective order, the woman got a phone call from the governor, according to her lawyer. She failed to appear for her next hearing on Feb. 8, and as a result her case was dismissed."*

There’s naturally bound to be additional pressure on the guy not to run for election since his party wants a clear field for an electable candidate. So what happens if/when he resigns? Does a logical candidate get appointed and have an advantage in the election as an incumbent? Or do they have some underling like the Nassau County Game Warden succeed to the job by state law?

Somewhat of a hijack: Saturday Night Live has a recurring sketch where Paterson (played by Fred Armisen) repeatedly bags on New Jersey. Does this have any actual basis on something that real-life Paterson has said, or did SNL just make it up for the sketch?

Same thing that happened when Spitzer quit: the lieutenant governor would take over. Paterson did eventually name one last year as part of the senate shutdown- it’s Richard Ravitch, a former head of the MTA. But right now I don’t think Paterson will quit. He’s got nothing left to lose, so it doesn’t matter if he takes a beating on this issue.

The knock on Ravitch (besides all the MTA snafus he was involved in) is that he was never elected, like Gerald Ford. Theoretically, Patterson was elected as Spitzer’s #2. I say theoretically, as the Lt. Governor slot is far less popular than even the Vice President slot.

Agree with Marley23, that Patterson will not quit. Still, his political career is shot. He’ll have problems being elected Hall Monitor at his kid’s school after this.

The NY gubernatorial candidates are going to be on the ballot during the midterm elections. A lot of people in NY will turn out to vote only for the Governor and most of the time they will vote for the rest of the candidates based on the party of their choice. The stronger the Democratic candidate, the more democrats will turn out to vote, which means more votes for other Democrats on the ballot.

Another important detail is that the State Senate is up for grabs. The Democrats have a 2 vote majority right now. I believe that the NY Constitution allows the Senate to be redistricted in 2012. The only reason the Republicans have controlled the NY Senate for so long is because they carved out Senate districts really carefully for the past 30 years. If I walk three blocks away from my house right now then I can walk through three Senate districts. If the Democrats are still in power by 2012, then they will stay in power for a long time.

I’m much less confident in this now that the state police commissioner quit and the scandal is continuing to develop in drips and drabs. People are starting to go after Paterson over Yankees tickets, too. It isn’t really relevant but it shows how badly things are going that anyone is even paying attention to that. And nobody’s going to stick up for the guy because he wasn’t elected governor and was already unpopular. The resignation pressure is likely to keep going up.

It’s true that there are other political concerns that are related to some people pushing him to get out of the primaries, but if you’ve followed any New York news this week you have a good idea of why he is not popular.

I’ve been following the news and it throws me back to my OP. The governor of the state of New York getting free Yankees tickets? The horror! Whooda thunk that any politician could stoop that low?

I mean, let’s get real here. There are scandals and there are SCANDALS. I’m not sure any state can build a prison big enough to hold all the politicians that did so much as get free tickets to a ball game. I have no affinity for Paterson but this guy is just getting ripped on. Next, the NY Post will be showing a front page photo with 60 point headlines of the guy J-walking.

What’s really going on? He isn’t running for anything. Why the pressure to resign? Is it just a slow time in the newsroom?

The pressure to resign is just spilled over frustration for his weakness and his insistence on running despite his overwhelming unpopularity and with so much at stake in this election.

There is a cheap joke going around Albany. The Republican coup that shutdown the Senate was planned about a block away for the Governor’s mansion. They say Paterson never saw it coming. :smiley:

Anyway, that explains mostly why people don’t like him. You need a strong Governor to keep Albany in check. The shutdown in Albany took place partially because we had such a weak Governor.

Yeah. What makes it a minor problem is that it sounds like Paterson lied about being invited to the game by Yankees brass, and then pretended he had intended to pay for the tickets. But yes, it seems like a non-issue that cropped up only because this other stuff is happening.

The next scandal will be about how he scratches out the ‘1’ on his 31" jeans waist size and replaces it with a ‘0’. Every little bit of cronyism is going to come to light now, most of it petty. I suspect other politicians will stay fairly quiet, lest someone look at the skeletons in their own closets.

It’s a little more than a minor problem since some of those (alleged) lies occurred under oath.
But I agree that it’s largely the fact that it’s added on to a series of events.

And it isn’t even just that he became governor without a constituency, he’s only really done one thing to demonstrate leadership and that’s announce almost as soon as he took office that the state was broke and getting broker.
Now that’s not going to gain you many friends, but you can generate some respect if you appear you’re steering through the hazards.

He’s had too many cases of proposing solutions that he backs off from when faced with opposition.