What Giuliani Means for Paterson

One thing that disappears along with Rudy Giuliani’s threats to run for governor: an excuse for Democrats to get rid of David Paterson.

Paterson’s poll numbers are low, and his fund-raising is anemic, but much of the talk about getting Paterson out of the race was, at least publicly, premised on the notion that a credible Republican candidate in the general election–that would be Rudy Giuliani–could snatch the governorship away from Democrats. And if Paterson went down, he could bring with him Senate Democrats, flipping control of that house into Republican hands right as lawmakers prepare to redraw legislative lines.

As one Paterson partisan put it, the anti-Patersons “have been holding up Rudy as a poster boy.” Without that poster boy, they will no longer be able to affect an air of regret about having to push the governor aside for the sake of the party. No, those same critics will only be able to contend (not unreasonably, but more harshly) that Paterson has been such a failure as governor that he must give way to Andrew Cuomo. Either that, or they’ll have to make the (somewhat tougher) case that New York will elect Rick Lazio.

Which doesn’t necessarily change any outcomes, but will certainly serve to make things somewhat more awkward.

Paterson, in a scrum with Albany reporters after the reports came out about Giuliani not running, was reserved.

“I won’t minimize that Rudy Giuliani served well as the mayor of the city of New York; he has a national reputation and he would be, obviously, an opponent that would have a lot of support,” he said. “I don’t know who’s running. I don’t even know why we’re talking about this.”

But what may have scared Giuliani out of the race is the same thing that may yet derail Paterson: Andrew Cuomo.

He’s popular, has lots of money, and has refused to stamp out chatter about his ambitions for that office.

Cuomo even sent a private – and subsequently leaked – signal to Giuliani that he’s prepared to run.

“Andrew’s positioning is so strong, I don’t think anything can happen to him,” said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf.