The New York State Democratic Party kicked off its convention Tuesday in Buffalo by designating Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as its candidate for governor, and former HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo as its designee for attorney general.
The two-day convention began today with candidates vying for their place on the September 12th primary ballot. Candidates need 51 percent of the vote to get the party nod, and 25 percent to get on the ballot.
Saying that it's time for a change, in a speech before the party faithful, Spitzer said the state is "in a crisis of leadership."
Spitzer, who has been running strong in the polls, talked about his accomplishments as the state's top law enforcement agent.
"Now it's time for change," he said. "In this campaign we are fighting for the very soul of government, the very future of New York. The crowd in charge of Albany is out of touch and out of ideas, and come January 1st they'll be out of time."
Meanwhile, State Senate Minority Leader David Paterson of Harlem was voted the party's designee for Lieutenant Governor. Paterson is Spitzer's running mate.
"I'm running for lieutenant governor because I know New York needs hope and I know where to find it," said Paterson. "I'm proud to be running with a man who insists that the law applies to the powerful and the powerless."
Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi is skipping the convention, but is hoping to steal some of the spotlight.
The gubernatorial candidate held his own rallies in Buffalo today, hoping to drum up enough support and signatures to get his name on the ballot. To do that he needs 15,000 registered party members to sign off.
“Sometimes the underdog surprises you,” the Long Island Democrat told supporters.
As Suozzi continues to fight, Spitzer is riding his momentum by going on a bus tour across the state to rally Democrats.
The only real mystery out of the convention surrounded the race for attorney general, where there's a five-way race for the nomination. Andrew Cuomo, the son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, captured 67 percent of the delegates' votes late Tuesday afternoon.
Cuomo has been leading in the polls against his closest competitor, former New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, who came in second place with 19 percent of the votes.
Cuomo is working to resurrect a political career that came to a halt after an unsuccessful run for governor in 2002.
In his speech to the delegates Tuesday, he called for a return to traditional Democratic principles.
“You see too many people get up in the morning with a knot in their stomach because they're afraid. They’re afraid about their retirement, they’re afraid about their health care, they're afraid about the environment, and they're afraid that there's nobody there for them,” said Cuomo. “And they have a right to be afraid. Six years of [George W.] Bush, 12 years of [Governor George] Pataki have taken a toll, and it's been a devastating toll on this state."
The designee also pledged to fight for same-sex marriage if elected state attorney general.
Mark Green got 19 percent of the vote, falling short of the 25 percent needed to automatically put him on the ballot.
But Green vowed to press on, saying he expects to gather enough petition signatures to force a primary in September.
Meantime, on Wednesday Hillary Clinton is expected to easily win her party's nomination as she runs for re-election to her U.S. Senate seat.
Finally, with no clear cut favorite for governor or senator, the Republican Convention gets underway Wednesday Hofstra University on Long Island.
Former state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld are fighting for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Either way, it will be an uphill battle for the winner, as Spitzer is far ahead in the polls.
Former Reagan administration official Kathleen "K.T." McFarland and former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer are trying to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. Again, polls show both of them far behind incumbent Hillary Clinton.
NY1 will provide ongoing coverage of the state Democratic and Republican conventions this week, including special editions of "Inside City Hall" nightly at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
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