Shortly after the New York Times reported yesterday that the White House was leaning on David Paterson to step out of the 2010 gubernatorial race in order to avoid other Democratic losses in the state, the governor began telling people he was still in the game. He spoke with the paper at the African American Day Parade in Harlem on Sunday, and afterward they did that thing where they run a garbled quote that makes an interview subject sound addled. "I am running for governor right now. I have no idea — I am a candidate for governor," Paterson said, adding that he's had "a number of different conversations with a number of different people" about what to do next year, and that such conversations are "confidential."
As Elizabeth Benjamin points out in the Daily News today, the Times report makes Paterson the lamest of lame ducks. Not only will it undercut his candidacy next time on the face of it, but it will also undermine his ability to accomplish anything during his remaining term in Albany that would help change voters' minds about him. "We're going to have to go back for a special session sometime this fall, and this is going to be a cloud over the governor's head," Bronx State Senator Jose Serrano, a Democrat, told the News. "It could be problematic."
Meanwhile, the White House has denied that they put an official message to Paterson to drop out. "President Obama is not involved in any way," an official told Fox News. But it's clear someone there is doing some leaning, and that national Democratic leaders are doing plenty of it, too. Apparently, top party officials have long been speaking of "a concern referred to as the 'David Paterson problem.'" Ouch.