President Obama Needs to Leave Politics Aside in New York, at Least for Now

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NY Governor Dave Paterson
NY Governor Dave Paterson

Polls for Governor David Paterson (D-NY) continue to head south as more New Yorkers question his leadership ability. The governor’s job performance rating dropped to 18%, down from 23% last month, according to a survey released this week by the Siena College Research Institute. The survey also found that only 14% of New Yorkers are prepared to re-elect Paterson, while 71% prefer someone else.

Despite his dismal polling numbers and a strong, public urging from the White House advising him not to run in 2010, Paterson will seek re-election. New York’s governorship is not only at stake however. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) is facing re-election after she was appointed in January, coincidentally by Gov. Paterson, to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vacant senate seat. Seven New York congressional seats also are up for re-election in 2010.

A possible gubernatorial loss in New York may be putting a chill on Gillibrand’s re-election hopes and the seven other congressional races being held next November. Democrats still need to maintain their majority in Congress, while President Obama pushes healthcare reform and considers redirecting the focus of the Afghan war.

The Obama Administration is right to get involved in pertinent local elections, but it’s wrong for President Obama to participate in the politicking. The president’s actions towards Paterson were perceived to be heavy handed and a blow to Obama’s image as an all-inclusive, bi-partisan president. No doubt Obama will recover from this snafu and stay out of local politics until the general election.

Fourteen months may be plenty of time to rally support for Paterson. The reality is the Democratic Party can’t take that chance, as Republicans ponder the notion of former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) entering the race. Democrats will likely back New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of former three-term New York governor, Mario Cuomo. But this all can change. Everyone loves an underdog. Is Paterson that underdog? Even President Obama was a long shot to win the presidency in 2009.

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