Tuesday, January 24, 2006

David Patterson: A Great Choice

Democrat candidate for governor taps state Sen. David Paterson as lieutenant in move seen as appeal to city


January 24, 2006

ALBANY -- Finalizing his ticket ahead of the usual political calendar, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has chosen state Senate Minority Leader David A. Paterson to be his running mate in the governor's race, and the Harlem Democrat has accepted the offer, Spitzer's aides said yesterday.

In choosing Paterson, an African-American who like Spitzer is a Democrat from the city, Spitzer went against the conventional wisdom, opting not to pick a lieutenant governor nominee from upstate or the suburbs.

By turning to one of his allies in the city - the base of the Democratic vote - some analysts saw the move as an attempt by the attorney general to strengthen his position in a primary, rather than the general election.

Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who is expected to formally announce soon that he will challenge Spitzer for the Democratic nomination, has been working feverishly to bolster his support in the five boroughs.

"Suozzi has to find a way to counter Eliot's move and add some power to his ticket," said Basil Smikle, a political consultant based in Manhattan. "It becomes a much more street-level campaign earlier."

Those close to Spitzer said Paterson's profile as Senate minority leader - a position that has taken him throughout the state - convinced the attorney general that Paterson would bolster the ticket.
Quietly, Patterson has traded on several significant assets-- name recognition from family heritage being the most obvious one (his father was Basil Patterson)-- and overcome enormous obstacles (being a liberal Democrat from the city, and visually impaired) to become a state-wide force as Senate minority leader, increasing the number of seats the Dems hold in the Senate in the process.

He's got a good sense of humour and connects with people he speaks with.

Every so often in politics, an unobvious choice is made that, once made, crystalizes so many nebulous, tenuous areas. This is one of those choices, the kind that make political junkies like me smack our heads and say "Why didn't I see that coming?"

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