James E. Campbell
Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science
University at Buffalo
The Obama administration's public attempt to pressure Gov. David
Paterson into declaring that he will not seek election next year so
that State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will more easily secure
the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is "highly unusual and very
risky," according to University at Buffalo political scientist
James E. Campbell.
"Presidents normally stay out of internal party nomination
contests. For President Obama to involve himself and allow it to be
leaked to the press risks offending a segment of his own party.
Moreover, if his effort is successful, he may appear to be a
meddling king-maker, trying to keep New York's Democrats from
deciding who will head their party's ticket," Campbell said.
"If Gov. Paterson refuses the president's call to declare
himself a 'lame duck,' President Obama could appear to be unable to
control his own party. If Gov. Paterson heeds the president's call,
however, he could effectively be writing himself out of the
governing process in Albany.
"I have no doubt that the Obama administration understands the
downsides to its intervention, but sees Paterson as such a heavy
liability for Democrats in 2010 that the fallout is worth it just
to get him out of the way.
"One wonders what Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is thinking and what
she will do. Gov. Paterson plucked her from relative obscurity to
fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Hillary Clinton,
so she owes him a considerable debt of loyalty. But, if Paterson
runs, her chances of being elected to the Senate seat will be
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