ALBANY—The first thing David Paterson was asked this morning, after speaking at a graduation for new state troopers, was whether he'd feel comfortable leaving the state anytime soon.
Under a deal reached yesterday that has apparently toppled Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, if Paterson leaves New York (even to go to New Jersey), State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. would assume the powers of the governor, according to the state constitution. Yes, this is the same man who is under investigation by the Bronx County district attorney, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and who owes several thousand dollars to the state board of elections.
"I would not plan on leaving the state right now," Paterson replied. "Why'd you ask me? Right now if there's any type of misunderstanding or issue of who is next in charge, I would think the best thing for me to do is to stay here."
Paterson said he was not working on Smith's behalf, nor were any of his staffers.
"That's something that they have to work out. I was just expressing my indignation," he said, referring to a rant last night. Paterson again expressed displeasure with the timing of this action, and said he would meet with anybody who is legally designated.
Paterson was asked if he wanted to see Malcolm Smith remain in control of the State Senate. He didn't answer yes or no.
"Senator Smith was elected by his colleagues for a two-year term. I think, right now, was not a time to interfere with that leadership. I don't know why, if there were problems, they weren't discussed. Maybe they were. I just don't think this was the time to resolve that issue. If the Senate has an issue about who its leader should be, I don't object to that. I object to it happening now when the people need us to be doing their business right here in Albany."