Missteps Bungled Paterson's Call For Tough Budgets
In less than two years, Governor David Paterson went from being a champion for responsibility in Albany to being yet another troubled head of state government. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
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David Paterson came into the state's top office in March 2008 on a wave of good will, taking control of the state after former Governor Eliot Spitzer stepped down in the wake of a sex scandal.
From the start, it was clear the legally-blind governor from Harlem would put his own stamp on the office, as he admitted early on to extramarital affairs and past drug use.
In his first month in office, when NY1 asked Paterson whether he had used cocaine, he replied, "I'd say I was about [age] 22 or 23. I tried it a couple of times, yes."
The governor soon tried to position himself as a tough fiscal steward and won praise for sounding an early warning about the state's finances.
"Government will do what families have done when their incomes have fallen -- we will cut spending," said Paterson in July 2008.
Results were hard to come by. Paterson became the target of unions' attack ads and his 2009 budget actually increased spending.
Then there was Paterson's bungling of the U.S. Senate appointment. Caroline Kennedy was the frontrunner for Hillary Clinton's seat, but she withdrew and anonymous sources from the Paterson administration dragged her through the mud.
The governor finally settled on a largely unknown upstate congresswoman, Kirsten Gillibrand.
"When the senate selection started to become a circus, I should have acted, just ended it," said Paterson after Gillibrand was appointed.
The comedy show "Saturday Night Live" lampooned the governor and he lashed out at the media. Paterson accused the press of racial bias and predicted President Barack Obama would be its next target.
The White House distanced itself from Paterson's remarks and then sent an even stronger message, making it clear the president didn't want Paterson running for a full term in 2010.
There have some been legislative victories for Paterson, like reforms to the state's Rockefeller Drug laws and the appointment of Richard Ravitch to serve as his second-in-command.
Recently, Paterson has been known for his defiant tone about the way business is done in Albany, in the face of a growing chorus of critics.
"We have to accept that the old way of doing budgets is unsustainable," the governor said in his last State of the State Address in January.
This last week, Paterson said he would not quit the race for governor, but a final, bizarre twist brought his aspirations for a full term to an end on Friday.