by Jordan Zakarin
New Governor David A. Paterson, sworn into office Monday following last week’s resignation of Eliot Spitzer, unveiled a very limited vision for the reeling state in an address following his taking the oath of office.
Admitting that the events of the past week, during which it was revealed that a federal wiretap caught Spitzer dealing with a high class prostitution ring, “weren’t on his radar” and insisting that he “didn’t see [the promotion] coming,” Paterson, now the state’s 55th governor, vowed to be proactive and not let New York’s various problems “sneak up on him.”
Paterson’s optimism seemed blind, however, given the fuzziness of his speech’s pronouncements and promises. He insisted that he foresaw himself continuing Spitzer’s crusade to clean up Albany, while veteran legislators saw no problems with their cozy relationship with lobbyists. As for the bloated budget, the new governor said he’d turn a careful eye to rooting out often unseen earmarks that have sent the state’s spending out of sight, though one Republican lawmaker remarked that Paterson, in his time in the state Senate, had “never been viewed as one to see through with his threats.”
Pledging resolve in the face of uncertain times for his state, Paterson promised that “when history stares us in the eye, we will not hesitate, or even blink.” Regarding the long-term struggle of an upstate plagued by the loss of its traditional manufacturing base, Paterson offered that tax credits and social programs will be given “sight unseen” to the region’s residents, while downstate investors, shook by the mortgage crisis fallout and the recent bailout of Bear Stearns, could expect to “see very little relief” until the markets settle.
Hoping to unite a fractured state, the new governor said he would work hard to move the state forward, by “short, wobbly and uncertain steps” if necessary. Seeking bipartisan unity, he offered a willingness to “blur the lines” between the two parties if it meant getting things done.
Elected as lieutenant Governor in 2006, Paterson was not seen as likely to find his way to the Governor’s mansion. An unknown commodity to a large state that has seen very little of him, re-election was one of the first topics he was asked about. Regarding the 2010 election, Paterson told reporters that reelection was too far away to see clearly, and only as the date draws closer will the political picture come into focus.