Report: N.Y. Gov. Paterson Won't Seek New Term

Gov. David Paterson is expected to announce Friday that he will finish his term, but will not run for re-election. That's according to the Associated Press. Paterson's administration has been plagued by allegations that officials and state police inappropriately interfered with a woman who accused a top Paterson aide of assault.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

New York State's governor, David Paterson, is expected to announce today that he will not seek another term. That's according to the Associated Press. Paterson became governor in 2008 when a sex scandal ended the career of Governor Eliot Spitzer. Now, Governor Paterson faces his own scandal.

NPR's Robert Smith is on the line from New York. He's with us live. Robert, good morning.

ROBERT SMITH: Good morning.

INSKEEP: So what did Paterson do, or allegedly do?

SMITH: Well, I should start by saying that Paterson has had problems the entire time of his career as governor, ever since he took over for Eliot Spitzer. His approval ratings are at 23 percent. He has very few supporters. So, when the latest scandal came out, there wasn't anyone out there to really back him up and support him. What happened was the New York Times yesterday morning published a story where they had obtained court documents, where there was a woman who claimed that an aide to the governor, David Johnson - a close friend and aide to the governor - had abused her last Halloween. This was a domestic violence dispute, and she had gone to court against this aide to the governor.

Now most damning is that, in court documents, she said that the state police, the New York State Police had sort of pressured her to drop the case. And before she was about to go to court, the governor - or so she claims through her lawyer - the governor called her on the telephone. She didn't say he pressured her to drop the case, but the next day, she didn't show up in court, and the case was dropped. Now, there are still a lot questions about what happened there, and the governor claims she called him and he didn't call her. But there is the appearance that he and perhaps the police interfered in a domestic violence case.

INSKEEP: So, very briefly here, allegations of an abuse of power - and we should say allegations, but nevertheless a devastating story, and no public support left for Governor Paterson. He drops out now in an election year, says he will not seek reelection. Is this good or bad for Democrats?

SMITH: Well, I've got to say, it's probably good for Democrats. A lot of Democrats were worried about an unpopular governor running at the top of the ticket. And there's another person out there: Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who people say is considering running for governor. People expect him to run for governor. He's a very strong candidate. The small wrinkle in this is that Paterson has asked the attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, to investigate this whole thing. So we have this strange matter of the person who may challenge, the person who may run for governor against - well, if he decides not to run, the person who may run for governor alone is doing the investigation of the sitting governor.

INSKEEP: So this could still be very sensitive for the son of Mario Cuomo in New York State.

SMITH: Exactly. It's a complicated situation for someone running for governor.

INSKEEP: Robert, thanks very much.

SMITH: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Robert Smith, in New York. And, again, the news here: New York's Governor David Paterson is expected to announce today that he is not going to seek another term at the governor's mansion in Albany.

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