Democratic Gov. David Paterson, bedeviled by a domestic-violence scandal involving a top aide and lacking support in his own party, has found himself severely weakened as he tries to save the state from insolvency and run for a full term in the fall.
Even longtime friends say he may not be able to do both.
On Thursday, Paterson was hit by press reports that he and state police had contacted a woman involved in a Halloween confrontation with one of his advisers at her home. That prompted some key Democrats from Washington to New York to urge Paterson to drop his underdog bid for election.
Hours later, Paterson’s criminal justice czar resigned, saying that she was misled by Paterson’s appointed state police superintendent and that any contact by the governor and state police with the woman was “unacceptable regardless of their intent.”
Now, Paterson finds himself hamstrung from taking action on the state’s fiscal crisis that helped his cellar-dwelling polls before. He’s not even meeting with legislative leaders in his own party with whom he needs to negotiate a budget by April 1.
Perkins [Sen. Bill Perkins, a Democrat representing Paterson’s old Harlem district] said he and other longtime friends of Paterson are urging he drop his campaign, especially in light of the resignation of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Denise O’Donnell.
“The cabinet, so to speak, is falling apart,” Perkins said.
The New York Times reported Wednesday on court papers showing a phone call between state police and the woman who accused Paterson’s aide, who was her boyfriend at the time. Paterson’s office acknowledges he talked to the woman but says she placed the call, and a spokesman for the governor denied anyone tried to keep the woman from pursuing a domestic-violence case.
Paterson suspended the aide, David Johnson, without pay on Wednesday and hasn’t made Johnson available to comment or answer questions. He had no immediate comment about O’Donnell’s resignation.
The turmoil stems from a Halloween 2009 argument between Johnson and Sherruna Booker, 40, according to a police report. The woman told police Johnson was angry about her costume, choked her, tried to rip the clothing from her body and pushed her into a mirror.
Booker appeared in Family Court three times after she filed the police report Oct. 31. She dropped her case abruptly on Feb. 8, when she didn’t show up at court.
New York Governor David Paterson has withdrawn from the race for state governor amid a scandal involving one of his aides.
He had announced his campaign formally only last weekend but had faced pressure to quit.
He said he had never abused his office, but was “being realistic about politics”.
There had been criticism over how he handled allegations about an aide and domestic abuse.