David Paterson drops out of New York governor's race

Dogged by a scandal involving a close aide, Gov. David Paterson dropped out of the New York governor's race Friday. However, he vowed to serve out his term and swore he had not abused his office 'not now, not ever.'

Richard Drew/AP
New York Gov. David Paterson, accompanied by is wife Michelle, announces at a news conference in New York that he has officially ended his election bid.

Buffeted by a burgeoning scandal, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) announced he would not be running for office this November.

“There are times in politics not to strive for public service but to step back,” said Governor Paterson at a short news conference. “It is increasingly clear I cannot run for office and manage the state full time.”

However, Paterson made it clear he was not resigning, but planned to serve out the 308 days left in his term “fighting for New York.”

Paterson's decision to withdraw from the race opens the way for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to run practically unopposed for the Democratic nomination for the Empire State’s highest office. But it also likely means the end of the political road for Paterson, whose family has a long history in the state’s politics. (For Monitor analysis of Paterson's decision to drop his election bid, see here.)

Paterson denied that his decision not to run was a result of a scandal involving a close aide, who was accused of domestic violence, and the subsequent involvement of Paterson and the state police. Rather, he claimed there was “an accumulation of obstacles that obfuscated me from bringing my message to the public.” (For Monitor coverage of the scandal, see here.)

Paterson says he is looking forward to an investigation of the latest affair by Mr. Cuomo. Raising his hand as if taking an oath, he swore he had not abused his office “not now, not ever.”

For the past three weeks, Paterson has been dogged by rumors that newspapers were about to print some scandalous article about him. “It was impossible for me to stop that,” he said.

Paterson says now he will turn his attention to Albany full-time. But he also seemed aware this was the end of his political life. “I hope history will remember I fought the good fight, I did what was right, and I put the people first,” he said before leaving.

Reaction from his political opponent was quick. Within minutes, Rick Lazio, running for the Republican nomination, said Paterson was an example of why the voters needed to elect someone not connected to the Albany culture.

However, even some of his supporters urged him to go further by resigning. New York Comptroller John Liu said Paterson should resign so the state budget could be resolved by the end of next month without a lot of political in-fighting. He thought Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch could best accomplish this.

“Given New York's precarious fiscal situation and the investigation involving the governor, even if self-imposed, New York should move forward under Governor Ravitch," Mr. Liu said in a statement.

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