08/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In New York, Paterson Prevails

If the New York state Senate battle was an action movie, it could be subtitled "Attack of the Oaths." The last twenty-four hours have yielded the appointment of a new lieutenant governor, a late-night court ruling delaying his swearing-in and the revelation that the proposed LG took the oath last night before the stay was issued.

The covert swearing-in took everyone by surprise; Governor David Paterson had said it wouldn't happen until the morning (and a few questioned whether the state Constitution gives him the power to pick a lieutenant governor in the first place). Paterson anticipated the court challenge and tried to head it off with the secret ceremony.

Not a bad tactic. It's the one the Republican side of the state Senate tried when they started this mess on June 8. The session was winding down, but they had secured two Democratic votes and decided to put the body into a tailspin. Their caucus moved into the chamber stealthily, held a reorganization vote and were sworn-in before the Democrats knew what hit them. Paterson gave them a taste of their own medicine.

As of this moment, Albany is buzzing about a deal being cut. It seems the last Democratic defector, Pedro Espada, will return to the fold. He can save some face now that being Senate President pro-tem no longer puts him next in line to the governor's chair. And he probably realizes that the jig is up. Because even if Espada doesn't come over from the Republican side, it's only a matter of time before the new lieutenant governor (or hell, somebody else) is allowed to break the 31-31 stalemate.

So, just as it began, the New York state Senate debacle of 2009 comes to an end with someone raising their hand and saying a few words. And David Paterson, one of the Empire State's biggest punching bags, has come out on top.