Massa Says It Would Be ‘Arrogant’ to Support Paterson

ALBANY—Representative Eric Massa said it would be "presumptuous" and "arrogant" of him to endorse David Paterson, the incumbent governor and his party's only declared candidate for governor in 2010.

"Is there an election coming up in 2010? I'm not aware of the status of that election," Massa, a freshman representing the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier, began. "The governor has not reached out and asked me for his support; the governor has not conversed with me on this issue. It would be presumptuous of me and I think a little bit misplaced for me to define his election. Frankly, I'm a lot more focused on health care than what's going on with state politics."

Massa has previously said he was not thinking about politics, but two weeks ago endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. Senate. I asked Massa for the distinction, and he said, "She asked me to."

I asked if he would issue a blanket statement of support for Paterson.

"I think that would be rather presumptuous and perhaps a little arrogant if I were to do so," Massa replied.

His comments came on a conference call with reporters in which Massa spoke about President Obama's speech last night and the ongoing debate for how to overhaul the country's health care system. Massa said he appreciated the speech, with a caveat: "Until we have that bill, it's very hard to see what the details are, and I'm someone who reads these bills in focused detail. So I can comment in generalities, but I can't commit until such time that I have the legislation."

He offered five suggestions for the bill: that there be a "presumption of zero liability" if doctors meet certain set standards of care, that it be deficit-neutral, that members of Congress be required to subscribe to any "public option" that the bill may contain, that costs for small businesses be clearly explained and that health insurance plans be portable across state lines. As a side tangent, he railed against televised pharmaceutical advertisements for several minutes. My favorite two quotes were "I want to go back to the day when I didn't turn the TV on and watch advertisements about things that I don't really want my daughter to be aware of" and "and by the way, I don't represent the executives in board rooms on Madison Avenue."