Monday, January 26, 2009

Paterson Faces Challenge

In the wake of the Caroline Kennedy fiasco, Governor Paterson is facing a continued onslaught of criticism-but he won't be here to counter any of it. Why? Because he's on the way to Davos for an elite world economic forum. This, on top of everything else from last week isn't sitting well with a lot of folks. It's gotten so bad that the NY Post has become wistful for Eliot Spitzer: "This circus needs a ringmaster. That's why we're nostalgic for Client 9. Sure, old Eliot could be a little prickly at times. But you can't balance a budget without breaking a few yeggs, and the Albany Legislature has a superabundance of them - in the newly reconstituted state Senate especially. Yet also in the Assembly - where Speaker Sheldon Silver is, as always, patiently assessing his opportunities. Fact is, Paterson should just stay in Davos. Nobody will notice, and the outcome won't be any different."

And Errol Louis goes off after Paterson yesterday-calling him "Dithering Dave." Louis disagrees with our assessment of the Gillerbrand pick; but he's right in the fact that the new senator will invite challenges from the left wing of the Democratic party-something that weakens the governor as well. Leave it to Mike Lupica, however, to really slice and dice the governor: "In the end, it wasn't Caroline Kennedy who was out of her weight class. It was Gov. David Paterson.
The coverage on this now is that it was Ms. Kennedy who somehow wasn't ready for "prime time." No. It is the governor of the State of New York who wasn't ready, and now can prove it."

So Paterson manged to make Caroline into the martyr that she certainly didn't deserve to be seen as-not with all of the swells backing her no resume candidacy. But now, as the NY Daily News reports this morning, Paterson's future is on life supports: "Democrats are increasingly pessimistic about Gov. Paterson's political survival. Paterson's handling of the U.S. Senate appointment has even his allies critical of the governor - and fearful that erosion in public confidence in him could impact efforts next year by Democrats to keep their tenuous control over the state Senate as well as the controller's office."

This isn't looking good; but Paterson has the ability to turn things around-if he manages to navigate the state through the current budget process: "Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Paterson ultimately will be judged on how the state handles the fiscal crisis. "Do we do a budget on time, does he provide the leadership that he has provided so far? Silver said. "I think so far he's done an excellent job."

Given the legion of skeptics that he has created, however, this is begging to seem like a Herculean task. What he has accomplished, is to create a situation where all of his missteps will be magnified-and he can ill afford any more, especially any ones of some magnitude, if he is planning to survive an election bid next year.