ALBANY—David Paterson is hitting the rubber-chicken dinner circuit, appearing as the guest of honor in Poughkeepsie on Thursday at the Dutchess County Democratic Committee's annual Salute to Labor Dinner.
Jane Barber Smith, the Democratic county chair, said she invited the governor in April, but he confirmed the invitation only in the last two weeks. Jay Jacobs, the presumptively incoming State Democratic Chair, will also attend.
"We are all delighted, obviously," Smith told me by phone. She said members of several unions–NYSUT, 1199, CWA, Ironworkers and the Nursing Association–will be honored. Statewide officials from some of the unions are expected to attend, giving Paterson a chance for face time with the labor constituency with which his relations remain frosty.
At a time when polls show the governor as persistently unpopular (as opposed to Andrew Cuomo, the attorney general whose desire for Paterson's job is clear, if not declared), few are eager to speak up on his behalf. Smith did so gladly.
"I think he, first as a person that I admire a great deal, but my personal opinion of the job he is doing as governor is that I think he's a man who is in one of the very most difficult situations that ever was presented to a governor," she said. "I have found him to be an extremely reasonable and thoughtful person in the way he deals with problems, and certainly it's visible that he is not sitting on his hands; that he is definitely a working governor."
"He is our governor, and I admire him, and as long as he's our governor I support him," she added. "I cannot think of another person who could step into that job and do a better job at this point. But I think the decision about running is purely his."