Has Obama asked beleaguered and unpopular NY Governor David Paterson to drop out of the race to keep his seat? That’s what the New York Times is reporting. If true, this is fairly extraordinary. It’s highly unusual for a president to step in and tell a governor who is not facing something like a crippling scandal or imminent indictment that his time is up. And when it’s the first black president telling one of only two black governors to clear the way for someone else…that definitely falls into the category of Stories You Never Expected To Read.
The person most likely to be thrilled to read about this in his Sunday paper is Andrew Cuomo, who has so far declined to challenge Paterson but would be the most likely Democratic candidate if the current governor drops out. As the Times notes:
The situation between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Paterson has been a complicated one. Mr. Cuomo is still haunted by the fierce backlash he stirred in 2002 when he decided to run in the Democratic primary for governor against H. Carl McCall, the first serious black candidate for governor. Now, Mr. Cuomo effectively has the blessing of the nation’s first back president to run against New York’s first black governor. That will probably neutralize any criticism he may face among the governor’s prominent black allies, including Representative Charles B. Rangel of Harlem, who warned this year that the party would become racially polarized if Mr. Cuomo took on Mr. Paterson.
Paterson reportedly remains resistant to calls–even presidential ones–to quit the race. (Maybe he and Mark Sanford have been on the phone, bucking each other up: “I don’t care what anyone says–you’re the best governor, man.” “No, dude, you’re the best governor.”) News like that has to have Democrats shaking their fists in the direction of Fifth Avenue and yelling for the umpteenth time: Eliot!