Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NY Times on David Paterson

The first few paragraphs on an interesting story from today's NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/nyregion/12paterson.html?hp

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson waited. Around noon, he was driven from his home outside Albany to the Capitol, raising expectations that Gov. Eliot Spitzer would soon resign and that Mr. Paterson was about to become the state’s 55th governor — and the first African-American to hold the post.

Neither happened. Mr. Paterson returned home and waited some more.

With Mr. Spitzer’s political future in grave doubt, Mr. Paterson, 53, a Brooklyn-born and Harlem-bred politician, has become Albany’s man of the moment. Widely considered smart, amiable and disarmingly candid, he is also largely untested.

In 2006, Mr. Paterson surprised the Democratic establishment by giving up the possibility of becoming majority leader if the Democrats captured the State Senate — one of Albany’s muscular three men in the room — to run for lieutenant governor, a largely ceremonial post.

But this week, Mr. Paterson’s political gamble suddenly appeared to be on the brink of paying off, if in an unexpected and unintended way. If Mr. Spitzer resigns, Mr. Paterson would become only the third black governor of any state since Reconstruction.

From the time he refused to learn Braille as a child, Mr. Paterson, who is legally blind, has been defying expectations. Former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo recalled playing basketball against him in a charity game a decade ago.

“David was on the other side,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I said: ‘What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be blind.’ He said, ‘I’m guarding you.’ Just what I wanted: a blind guy to guard me. The second time down the court, he stole the ball.”

Fellow Democrats and Republicans consider him to be more liberal than Mr. Spitzer and also a more deft politician, capable of healing the rancor that has driven Albany into gridlock.

“He’s got a wonderful sense of humor, a very gentle man,” said Betsy Gotbaum, the New York City public advocate. “In that sense, he’s the opposite of Eliot.”

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