Incumbent Governor David Paterson is portraying himself as outsider candidate for Governor, and to some extent that’s true. He famously doesn’t have Obama’s support, reportedly doesn’t have the support of state Democrats, and most certainly doesn’t have the support of the local press. Still, there’s one person who’s stood by him steadfastly as the campaign season got underway.
Not any more. Now that Paterson’s officially in the race to keep his job, he’s lost the support of Rick Lazio.
For months, presumed Republican challenger Lazio has been Paterson’s unlikely champion. He’s repeatedly attacked possible primary challenger Andrew Cuomo for distancing himself from legislative business in Albany, and he’s taken on the New York Times for unleashing “drama,” “innuendo and nasty speculation” on Paterson by mishandling the big rumor story.
Cynics among us have questioned whether Lazio’s support had anything to do with wanting to run against an incumbent he’s leading in the polls instead of a popular Attorney General who’s beating him like a rented mule. And cynics were, as they ever are in New York politics, absolutely right. Because as soon as Paterson was officially in the race, Lazio leaped to tie his performance as Governor to Cuomo and that other Governor with the sex scandal.
“After the election of Eliot Spitzer four years ago, New York State government entered a new era of dysfunction. Since David Paterson became Governor, the state has lurched from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis. We now face a massive structural budget deficit, skyrocketing taxes, and a people that have lost faith in their political leaders.
“Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson, and Andrew Cuomo are all part of this problem. The people want solutions. They want new ideas and new leadership. My candidacy represents a better future for New York. I will create new and better jobs, add a 2.5 percent hard cap on property taxes, and make the tough choices on spending. I will not hesitate to use the veto to stop more deficit spending. I will fight the special interests, and bring New York the fundamental change it needs so it can be The Empire State once again.”
It’s unclear what Spitzer has to do with any of this, and it’s unclear what role Lazio thinks the Attorney General plays in budgetary issues. What is, abundantly, clear is that Governor Paterson has one less friend than he used to.