ALBANY—Assemblyman Keith Wright wasn't at last week's meeting in Kingston, but in a phone interview the Harlem Democrat, who is on track to become chairman of the Manhattan organization, had his own spin to offer:
"The way I thought about the meeting was that the new–notwithstanding what was reported–was that the new, incoming state party chair was trying to call people together and try to get his finger on the pulse of what was happening out there. He met with some of the major constituency groups. Like with any intra-family squabbles, I guess he's going to get an earful."
Wright was referring to Jay Jacobs, of Nassau County, who Paterson recently designated to chair the state party.
From what I've heard, the meeting was in fact convened by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic chair. Also in attendance were Carl Heastie of the Bronx, Joe Morelle of Rochester and the presidents of Local 32BJ, Local 1199, the Building Trades Council and United Federation of Teachers. I asked Wright about some of the more extreme reports from the meeting, that it was a group setting an ultimatum on supporting Paterson in an election bid in 2010. We spoke just as news was coming from Buffalo that several unions there are calling Andrew Cuomo to run for governor, not Paterson.
"I don't know who these council of elders are, but I defy any of them to go and tell the governor he shouldn't run instead of doing it in the newspapers," Wright said. "These council of elders have not emerged, whoever they are. Are we talking about the wizard from behind the curtain?"
Wright, one of Paterson's most consistent defenders, said he was not invited to the meeting.