Paterson Not Visible in Senate Fight

ALBANY—As State Senator Malcolm Smith worked from the Capitol to try and patch together a coalition for his chamber's leadership, David Paterson was in New York City.

As of late yesterday, different sources offered differing accounts of the degree of his involvement, but all agreed that he stands at least tacitly behind Smith, who has said he is acting with the governor's support.

In response to an inquiry, Paterson's spokesman Errol Cockfield released this statement: "With an election still a month away it's no surprise that negotiations haven't ended. That said, the Governor is focused on the fiscal challenges facing the State and other State business and hopes the parties will come to a resolution."

Last night, Paterson said he was sorry the unresolved nature of Senate leadership will carry over toward budget season, which starts next week.

While he was in the room when the now-shattered deal when the Gang of Three reached their agreement with Smith, how strong a role he played is unknown. The argument has been made that Paterson could have crushed the revolt but didn't. Another unanswered question is how motivated the governor might be to force a leadership deal before he shifts Albany's attention toward what will no doubt be a long, grueling budget process.

Paterson Not Visible in Senate Fight