The general reaction today from state lawmakers to Gov. David Paterson’s decision to not run for election is that even though he’s out—and that may help him govern—his troubles are not over as the probe into his role in a potential cover-up of a domestic-abuse scandal involving his aide continues.
First, Baruch College political-science professor Doug Muzzio offered this assessment of the whole situation here on Planet Albany:
“This is a combination of Rod Serling meets Lewis Carroll,” he said. “It’s the Twilight Zone plus Wonderland. You never know what’s happening because the story is more absurd that you can think.”
Some lawmakers were more critical of Paterson than others, of course.
“I’m actually more interested in his ability to govern for the next several months than I am in his political fortunes or all of our political fortunes,” Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, who heads the Monroe County Democratic Committee, told the Democrat and Chronicle editorial board today, reports the paper’s Jill Terreri.
“I think if, and it’s hard to tell what happened here, if the governor intervened, if the State Police intervened in a serious domestic-violence dispute, then I think it calls into question his ability to be the chief executive of the state,” said Morelle, an ally of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
State Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, who investigated the first Troopergate scandal in 2007, questioned how Paterson will have any ability to lead the Legislature through the budget process. Some lawmakers, particularly Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, have called on Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch to handle the budget negotiations.
“The issue is going to be whether he will be so damaged, can he lead the state? That’s going to be the big question here,” said state Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira. “I think it’s going to be very difficult for him to be able to govern given this firestorm.”
But others said Paterson will have the burden of a campaign fight against Attorney General Andrew Cuomo off his shoulders and should be able to focus on governing, not politics.
“What it does, it allows those us who have really been deeply concerned about the impact this is having on our ability to do this job, we can now breath and to do exactly that,” said Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mount Vernon, Westchester County.