Well, what a day, and it’s only 1:30 EDT here. Historic some are calling it. I might not go that far, but it certainly has been notable. It might have been more “historic” if Spitzer had been impeached, as I don;t think any NY Governor has ever gone through that. Others have resigned for one reason or another, but I am unaware of any having been impeached.
I suppose one could look at David Paterson’s ascension to the Governorship as historic. He’s African-American and blind. Not that those facts will have any impact on his ability to do the job. Though historically, he does have a bit of an uphill battle. Lieutenant Governors who take over for a sitting Governor have not fared paricularly well in NY. The last was when Nelson Rockefeller resigned to become Vice-President under Ford, one Malcolm Wilson. Wilson never made much of a name for himself, and was defeated by Hugh Carey, then a relatively unknown State Legislator.
So thrust into the spotlight is David Paterson. NY political junkies know who he is. He has a political pedigree, and has quietly served in the State Senate since the mid-1980’s. He has good relations with just about everyone from what I understand. He had already spoken with the Legislative leadership on both sides yesterday, and confirmed some things with them today. Hard to find anyone in State government who has much, if anything bad to say about him. He’s pretty milk-toast as far as politics go. A liberal to be sure, but hardly controversial.
Side note on Paterson. According to Brian Taffe on Capital News 9, Paterson asked to be removed from the ticket as Lt.Governor just a week prior to the election in 2006. Apparently even he couldn’t get along with Spitzer that much either. Paterson was talked out of it by his father’s cohorts from Harlem. Might make a good “what if..” exposition at some point.
Paterson will get saddled with a budget not of his making. There’s no way around it with out adding fuel to the fire as it were. Whatever the conference committees between the Senate and Assembly come up with will be the State budget for this fiscal year. Paterson simply won’t have time or the staff to put together a proposal of his own, and it wouldn’t be prudent to try and run with Spitzer’s proposals. Depending on how this plays out, it could make or break him, and it will not be of his own doing.
Meanwhile, back in sunny NYC, it seems that there is no deal between Eliot Spitzer and the US Attorney’s Office. At least not yet. I suspect the Eliot will cut some sort of deal. Either it will be a reduced or suspended sentence for pleading out, or it will be an immunity deal to testify. Either way, Eliot is going to have find a new line of work. He’s facing disbarment, so he won’t be able to practice law, and the loss of his real estate liscense. Though he can always “consult” for his father and shuffle money around through his father’s accounts as well as his siblings, just like he did with his campaign cash.
Interesting note on the succession. There is no provision in the NYS Constitution for replacing a Lt.Governor if he/she has to become Governor. None. As such, NYS will be without a Lt.Governor until 2010 when the next election cycle hits. In the meantime, Joe Bruno will assume the duties of the position, without actually assuming the position. So, when Paterson is out of the State, Joe’s in charge. Expect this oversight to be addressed at some point prior to 2010, probably next year (though there is a bill on this floating around I believe).
Now for some light reading links:
(H/T to Kurt for this one): Eliot Ness’ Mess