New York Gov. David Paterson declared today that he still has the authority to govern and plans to do so through the final year of his term, despite calls for his resignation amid a state police scandal.
“I already have the authority,” Paterson said in his first comments since Friday, when he suspended his campaign for a full term.
“I’m the governor,” he told a panel at the New York Observer Breakfast Series event in Manhattan. “That’s why you invited me.”
When asked whether his resignation was off the table, Paterson said, “I would think it’s off the table. I don’t even know why it’s on the table. I have the authority to govern.”
He also said, “There are plenty of governors who in their last year in office, who are term-limited governors … who have been able to accomplish a lot.”
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a fellow Democrat, said later that he doesn’t think “anyone knows” whether Paterson can be a viable governor.
“I’m not going to spend a lot of time speculating about it because he is the governor and we have to get on with the problems of the people of New York,” Brodsky said.
A senior assemblyman from Westchester, Brodsky also said that in general, “The speculation by both the political class and the press are doing a terrible disservice to the state. It’s enough already.”
Paterson said some Democrats who called for his resignation last week have reconsidered after a meeting of black leaders Saturday in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, Paterson’s longtime power base.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating whether Paterson and his state police security detail illegally contacted a woman about an alleged domestic disturbance involving one of the governor’s top aides.
Paterson said abandoning his campaign frees him to govern and address a deficit of more than $8 billion in the upcoming state budget.
“I can make decisions and I won’t have to hear a robotic response from the Legislature that ’he’s doing this for politics, he’s doing this to get his poll numbers up, he’s running against the Legislature because we’re more unpopular than he is,’” Paterson said.
Paterson was lieutenant governor when he succeeded Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in a prostitution scandal. He has less than a year left in his term.