Former Gov. David Paterson is diving into a Staten Island assembly race.
Mr. Paterson is fund-raising for Marybeth Melendez, a Democrat taking on Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, according to an email obtained by the Observer.
In a followup interview Monday, Ms. Melendez hailed the support.
“It’s one of his strong suits to speak to people in a bipartisan way,” Ms. Melendez said. “He’s great at relaying the message that it’s not about being ‘us,’ not being ‘them,’ but about being ‘we.'”
Ms. Melendez said Mr. Paterson also spoke to her about the challenges and advantages of being a visually-impaired person seeking elected office. Ms. Melendez and Mr. Paterson are both legally blind.
“We’ve been able to talk about how interesting it is that for individuals such as ourselves, how better we are at listening,” she said. “We’re able to take information at a different perspective. It makes it easier for us to listen to different points of views.”
Mr. Paterson’s efforts will boost to Ms. Melendez, a relatively little-known first-time candidate, but it’s not clear how much the Democrat’s potential endorsement (he hasn’t officially weighed in on the race) will help in the right-leaning but potentially competitive Staten Island district. Ms. Malliotakis, observers say, will be difficult to beat–though a report surfaced that Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino was considering her as a running mate, raising the possibility of an open seat.
In a statement, Ms. Malliotakis’ campaign defended her record without acknowledging Ms. Melendez.
“Whether it be restoration of bus service, improving our education system, providing relief for taxpayers, or her Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, Assemblywoman Malliotakis’ hard work can not be matched,” a campaign spokesperson said. “Her record speaks for itself.”