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Governor of New York faces an avalanche of woes

Democrat David Paterson, who is battling the legislature over budget deficits and has been asked not to run again by President Obama, now is denying Internet rumors involving sex and drugs.

February 09, 2010|By Geraldine Baum

Reporting from New York — This is how bad it is for David Paterson, Democratic governor of New York:

His major opponent in the primary is ahead of him in the polls and has six times more money in his war chest.

The president of the United States has made it clear that he doesn't want him to run. Even friends are discouraging him.


FOR THE RECORD:
New York governor: In an article in Tuesday's Section A about Internet rumors about Gov. David Paterson, he was described as the first African American governor. The story should have said he is the first African American governor of New York. —

The state's $8.2-billion budget deficit keeps ratcheting up, and the governor can't seem to agree on anything with members of the state Legislature that, after almost 50 years, is narrowly controlled by his own party.

And now?

People across the state are gobbling up ugly rumors about the governor involving sex and drugs that the blogosphere is reporting will appear in a newspaper article that has yet to be published -- and may never be published, for all anyone knows. Still, this has prompted the governor's office to issue a statement Monday denying the reports about the unpublished report.

Here it is:

"The circus of the past week -- entirely fabricated out of thin air and innuendo -- is an embarrassment for all who have played a role in feeding it. Rumors of resignation and scandal are just that -- rumors. The governor has not engaged in any inappropriate or illegal behavior and suggestions to the contrary are entirely false and deeply irresponsible. This is a new low even by the standards of planet Albany. Governor Paterson is the governor today, he will be the governor tomorrow and he will win reelection this fall."

The New York Times is reportedly working on a story that has prompted the media and blog posts, but so far has only posted on its website a wire account about the response from the governor's office.

"This is insane and odd and out of control," said the governor's friend, former state official Carl McCall, who's heard the rumors. "Who knows what to believe?"

Paterson's troubled governorship could explain some of the frenzy.

Almost two years ago, Paterson, a former state senator from upper Manhattan and the son of a prominent black politician, became the first African American governor after the resignation of Eliot Spitzer, who was caught up in a prostitution scandal.

The day after he took office, Paterson, who is legally blind, admitted his own personal shortcomings, including having had extramarital relationships with a state employee and illegal drug use.

Paterson was also quickly besieged by political missteps and questions about his ability to manage the governor's office.

He also battled legislators in Albany over how to wrestle with dwindling tax revenues as a result of the implosion on Wall Street.

Paterson's decision to run for office in 2010 has been questioned by Democrats statewide, who worry that in an environment of voter discontent over the economy, the unpopular governor will hurt the top of the ticket.

Andrew Cuomo, the New York attorney general and son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, has expressed his interest in running by raising $18 million compared with Paterson's $3 million.

geraldine.baum@ latimes.com

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