New York Gov. Paterson Drops Out Of Race

Embattled New York Gov. David Paterson announced Friday that he won't seek election. Paterson has been snared in a scandal involving a top aide who is accused of domestic abuse. News reports say Paterson improperly intervened on behalf of the aide.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Im Melissa Block.

New York Governor David Paterson has abruptly ended his campaign for a new term. He was pressured by other state Democrats to drop out after allegations that he intervened in a domestic violence case against a top aide. NPRs Robert Smith joins us from Manhattan. Governor Paterson held a news conference there this afternoon. And, Robert, the governor has been facing weeks of damaging rumors and news stories. This one finally knocked him out of the race.

ROBERT SMITH: This was a really bad one, and there have been some bad accusations against the governor over the past year. But this was the news that a former girlfriend of his top aide, a really trusted aide, accused this aide of violent abuse. Now we knew that earlier in the week, but even more damaging was that the state police allegedly pressured this woman to drop her case against the aide, and the governor himself talked to the woman on the phone before her court date. She ended up dropping the case, not showing up for that court date. Now the governor didnt get into specifics today but he did - he did raise his right hand, and he said...

Governor DAVID PATERSON (Democrat, New York): I have never abused my office -not now, not ever. And I believe that when the facts are reviewed the truth will prevail.

SMITH: Still, the governor said he needed to be realistic about politics, and there's no way he could run the state, New York, and deal with all these accusations.

MELISSA: Run the state, and the state, of course, New York is facing a fiscal crisis. Can he realistically do his job with this scandal still hanging over him?

SMITH: Well, thats the real question. I mean, you know, the state has an almost $8 billion deficit it has to close. And the governor now is a lame duck, and I have to say he has barely a friend in Albany anymore. But there is this chance that now that hes sort of freed from politics he can make very brutal, brutal budget cuts and, you know, frankly, Paterson has very little to lose.

BLOCK: Robert, the state attorney general, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, has been presumed to want to run for governor.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

BLOCK: Does this now open the door from him to officially enter that race?

SMITH: It does, but he has to be very careful about how he does this because he is officially investigating this whole mess: the alleged witness tampering, the use of the state police. So he has to figure out how to announce in a way thats not unseemly. But frankly, a lot New York Democrats are relieved that there wont be this big bruising primary in New York state now.

BLOCK: NPRs Robert Smith in Manhattan. Robert, thanks very much.

SMITH: Youre welcome.

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