Thompson Sticks With Paterson, Avella Doesn’t

City Comptroller BiIl Thompson said he’s support Governor David Paterson for re-election next year, even if there’s a Democratic gubernatorial primary. City Councilman Tony Avella said he’d support Paterson in a general election, but wouldn’t say he’d support the governor in a primary.

Thompson also took a shot at the new Democratic Senate leader Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, saying, “I don’t believe he has been a friend to New York City.” Avella said Espada is “corrupt and self-interested. Anyone who says differently is lying.”

The comments were made during the first debate between Thompson and Avella for the Democratic mayoral nomination, at the public library on 42nd Street, hosted by New York 1 News, the Daily News, NY1 Noticias, WNYC Radio, Citizen Union and Time Warner Cable.

After the debate, I asked Avella about Paterson, and he said the governor was like a “deer in headlights.”

Avella also said he had was unsure if he could support Thompson for mayor if he won the Democratic primary.

When asked during the debate if he’d support Paterson for re-election, Avella sighed audibly, paused, and then said, it “depends who the other candidate is.” When moderator Dominic Carter of New York 1 asked again, this time specifically asking if he’d support Paterson in a general election, Avella said yes.

Then he was asked if he’d support Paterson in a primary. Avella said “you’re not leaving me much room here,” and ultimately said no.

Then it was Thompson’s turn. He said he would support Paterson in a general election, and primary.

At the moment, that’s saying something. Paterson has been lagging behind Andrew Cuomo in fund-raising and is getting destroyed in the polls. Thompson’s support of Paterson also comes as the governor has gone through a bruising week, first losing a court battle to install Dick Ravitch as a lieutenant governor, then launching a poorly formulated attack on the media–and a black journalist in particular–for being biased against him.