New York Gov. David Paterson formally declared, on Monday afternoon, his intention to seek reelection to the governor's chair in 2010.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Paterson described his desire to see his state through its current economic crisis as well as his interest in actually steering a term in office from its onset.
"I'd like to run for reelection and serve as governor as a full term, have an actual transition period and a real inauguration," he said. "I see this as an immense challenge, and one that most people think is insurmountable with the number of people leaving New York state. And if in any way it would have been viewed that I did something to ameliorate the problems...and brought people back, I would think that would be a satisfaction that I carried with me for the rest of my life."
It has been suspected that Paterson would seek to hold onto the governor's chair in 2010. After taking over for Eliot Spitzer in March 2008, his popularity ratings have risen even as his state's economic situation worsened. In August, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 64 percent of New Yorkers approved of the job Paterson was doing.
The governor already has taken steps to set up his run, though an aide said this was his first formal declaration to a news outlet. In July, he announced that his reelection committee had "raised more than $3,200,000 over a two month period," a clear indication that he was not simply getting his feet wet.
Recently, moreover, Paterson launched a website in order to draw voter attention to the work he has done while in office, as well as his future designs for the state. In his interview with the Huffington Post, Paterson drew on much of this material, discussing at length how he envisioned New York's struggling economy ultimately turning around.
"A lot of manufacturing companies that moved out of New York because of the cost of the work force found that when they went to South Asia and to China, that the costs of energy moving supplies back and forth...were actually greater than the savings in the work force," he said. "And they are now starting to think about coming back to the United States. We are going to be in competition for them. I can think of a lot of opportunities. I'm hindered, though, in trying to get to them because of this budget deficit. If I can get through this period and get myself reelected, then I think I'd have four years to really try and be productive and get to play on offense."
New York has been uniquely impacted by the current financial crisis. Wall Street, Paterson noted, provides anywhere between 20 and 30 percent of the state's revenue. With struggles in the financial sector, the state could be seeing additional debt added to its already large $1.2 billion dollar budget shortfall.
Paterson, to a large extent, inherited this situation from previous governors (Albany is notorious for not meeting its budgetary needs on time) and from actors beyond his control. But he has earned some accolades for his frankness in addressing the matter.
He has also earned plaudits for filling the void left by Spitzer. The former governor and attorney general bottomed out during his brief tenure in office, making overly partisan postures, pursuing unpopular policies (driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, cuts in Medicaid, etc.) and, ultimately, getting caught purchasing the services of prostitutes.
Perhaps hoping to distinguish himself from his predecessor, Paterson's aides included a video on the newly launched website that states, "Somewhere along the line David Paterson began to prove that you can be nice and be tough."
The governor could face a variety of challengers. Those who have either hinted at making a run, or whose names have been prominently floated, include former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and - to a lesser extent - Sen. Hillary Clinton. One name no longer on the list appears to be current mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is seeking a third term in office. Asked why voters should regard Bloomberg's objectives any differently than when Giuliani tried to stay in office past the two-term limit following 9/11, Paterson offered a measure of support for his current New York government colleague.
"The difference between Giuliani and Bloomberg was that Giuliani just wanted an extra three months to hang around and that was against the law. Bloomberg wants to, presumably, have the city council extend the term limits, which under the law it is allowed to do," he said. "I hope...that this is done in a fashion that doesn't leave a bad taste or a precedent that could be exploited in a later date. As long as that's the case, and he'd like to run for a third term, he has been an asset to the city for the last eight years. And there is no reason to think he wouldn't be for another four."