Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paterson's Haily Mary

Anne Michaud posts a piece at Newsday on the Paterson formula for victory in 2010; taking off from the following Gershman analysis in New York Magazine: "'The governor, say the aides, will start by mobilizing support from prominent black leaders, including Al Sharpton. He intends to tailor his message more explicitly to minority voters, drawing more attention to his overhaul of the Rockefeller mandatory-drug-sentencing laws. Aides say Paterson also plans to make a more direct appeal for support against his adversaries. “How is it that all of these unions run wild and kick him? It’s a kick at all of us. People in the African-American community are asking why are they doing it. It’s a pride thing,” says a Paterson ally.'"

To which Michaud adds: "Until now, Paterson has played his position as New York's first African-American governor very low-key. Cynics who expected him to appoint Harlem cronies to top government jobs, when he took over in March 2008, have been disappointed. It has proved to be a wise, unifying strategy for Paterson -- and not unlike the race-neutral appeal of Barack Obama's campaign for president."

So, apparently, the governor feels that by racializing the contest-and his appeal-he can keep the hard charging Andrew Cuomo on the sidelines. This strategy depends, however, on his success in raising his dismal poll numbers; because if he doesn't do so, Al Sharpton's army is only going to exacerbate Paterson's dilemma: "If Paterson doesn't step aside to allow Cuomo to grab the Democratic nomination for 2010, it's not at all clear that the attorney general will force the issue and risk raising those bad old feelings."

Ya think? It's all about the numbers. Because if the polls show the governor going down to a putative Giuliani challenge, it will be Black elected officials who will be holding the retirement party for Paterson. In any event, he really has only until the end of the year to craft a miraculous comeback, After that, the call for Cuomo's ascension will be deafening.