King: Paterson the Budget Hawk Could Trump Paterson the Lefty

Peter King, the congressman from Long Island who is contemplating a gubernatorial run in 2010, thinks David Paterson may be open to attack as a career liberal, but only if he fails in his bid to trim the budget.

“Obviously you raise [Paterson’s] senate record and you raise whatever you have to, but he’s going to be judged on his record as governor,” said King in an interview yesterday evening. “If he gets the job done and cuts into the deficit, I don’t think people are going to care too much about his senate record. But if he doesn’t, his past record becomes relevant.”

Paterson represented Harlem in the State Senate for two decades, and supported legislation requiring police to “shoot to wound.” Paterson had taken other positions well to the left of the official consensus at the time, including allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections.

Some of the issues were raised during the 2006 gubernatorial race, when Paterson ran as Eliot Spitzer’s lieutenant governor. After Paterson became governor this March, it was also revealed that he helped a constituent once arrested for disorderly conduct obtain a gun permit.

Now, with Paterson positioning himself as a fiscal conservative in the build-up to a run at the top of the ticket, it seems that some of the liberal positions he’s taken in the distant past may be the only obvious avenue attack for a law-and-order Republican like King or…someone else.

“Rudy is probably the leading candidate in the party,” said King, who added, “He has the strongest reputation.”

King: Paterson the Budget Hawk Could Trump Paterson the Lefty