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NYT Story Opens Door For Ravitch

If Paterson resigns, new governor is a Jew

Marc Tracy
February 25, 2010
Gov. Paterson last Saturday, announcing his re-election bid.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Gov. Paterson last Saturday, announcing his re-election bid.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

So after weeks of rumors and a couple articles that drew little if any blood, the New York Times today ran an investigative piece on New York Governor David Paterson that could well prove fatal to the Democrat’s tenure. In essence, it reports a heap of circumstantial evidence—without, it should be said, a true smoking gun—that Paterson personally intervened to make a domestic assault allegation against a longtime aide go away. If Paterson used the power and prerogatives of his office to influence the criminal justice system away from doing its job when it came to credible allegations of violence against a woman, then, well, would you want him remaining as your governor?

Blogger Ben Smith, a keen observer of the absurd world of New York state politics, reports that many state Democrats—oh, right, did we mention this is a gubernatorial election year?—are uneasy with the prospect of Paterson running for reelection, as he announced he would last Saturday; one operative calls the article “lethal.” Already, Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York) has asked Paterson to sit this one out.

There’s not running for re-election, on the one hand, and then there’s resigning. Should Paterson depart office prematurely, his handpicked lieutenant governor would take over for the duration of his term. That person is Richard Ravitch, who comes from several generations of Jewish New Yorkers, who made their name as builders. He’s 76, and is not a factor in terms of the upcoming election. But if the fallout from the Times story proves deathly not just to Paterson’s re-election bid but to his current governorship, then the country’s Jewiest state will—after a two-year absence, since Eliot Spitzer resigned—have a Jewish governor again.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.