Carl McCall said that he just spoke with Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, who said he is "prepared to do what he needs to do" after Governor Eliot Spitzer seemed to admit today that he was involved in a prostitution ring.
"I just got off the phone with David," said McCall, "and he is also in a sense of shock and what he said to me is, he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to provide the leadership in this state. That’s the type of determination he has. I think David has the ability to do the job. David has been tested. He has been in the Legislature at a very top position for a long time; he is a very smart fellow who I think will be able to step in and provide the leadership we need, if it comes to that."
"He was shocked but at the same time determined," said McCall. "He said he is prepared to do whatever needs to be done and he is ready for it."
McCall said he did not know if Spitzer had spoken with Paterson.
McCall also said the choice of whether or not to resign rested solely with Spitzer.
"I think that is a very difficult decision that he has to make. This is a terrible personal tragedy for him and his family and the people of his state, those of us who have really been looking forward to his leadership who have been seeing the fruits of it so far and hopefully there’d be more to come. However, this is just a decision that he will have to make, we will have to make. And we will just have to stand by and support him in what he decides to do."
But McCall also allowed for the potential of paralysis, at the very least, in state government were Spitzer to stay.
"The consideration is, will he be able to provide the effective leadership going forward or will there just be a stalemate and will the Republicans, who themselves are on the ropes, will try to make something of this and then there will be gridlock."
He also said Spitzer’s difficulties were compounded by his rocky first year in office.
"There are two different things. The problems that he has had over the last few months are more political. These things happen politically. Did he do something wrong, did his staff do something wrong—that’s one set of considerations and I believe he was working his way out of that and coming back from that. This is very different. This is a very personal thing.
"These things all have a way of coinciding. Coming on top of the earlier problems, this brings that all back up again. There’s no question that the confluence of this makes it all that much more difficult."
He said that aside from Paterson, other New York Democrats would have to step up.
"Shelly Silver has a big role to play," he said. "He has been very quiet and effective. He is going to have to be more public.
"This is huge—there is no question about it," said McCall, saying once again that it would be the governor’s choice alone. "We will have to try and live with the consequences."