In an unexpected reversal of previous lower-court decisions, the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, ruled today in a 4–3 decision that Governor Paterson does in fact have the power to fill a lieutenant-governor vacancy by appointment, making former MTA chief Richard Ravitch the state's first unelected lieutenant governor in history. The Times believes that the "ruling is certain to boost the political fortunes of the beleaguered governor," but we wouldn't take that too far. While big victories such as this one are certainly rare for Paterson these days, we doubt this decision changes much in terms of his popularity or viability as a candidate. It does, however, stabilize the gubernatorial line of succession should the Obama administration force Paterson onto the next flight to Sicily or something (we wouldn't put it past them), in addition to providing the Senate with a tie-breaking vote in the event that any persnickety Democrat bolts the conference again.
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