Is Obama paying back David Paterson?

>> Monday, September 21, 2009

There has been a minor dust up regarding President Obama urging Gov Paterson of NY not to seek reelection. We saw Michael Steele make the assertion that it was "curious" on why the White House would ask New York Gov. David Paterson (D) not to run for reelection in 2010.

"I found that to be stunning, that the White House would send word to one of only two black governors in the country not to run for reelection,"
"It raises a curious point for me. I think Gov. Paterson's numbers are about the same as [New Jersey] Gov. [Jon] Corzine's. The president is with Gov. Corzine."

The implication here is that Obama is paying back Gov Paterson for not choosing Caroline Kennedy to replace Sen Hillary Clinton. This is the argument made forcefully by Professor Darren Hutchinson at Dissenting Justice here and here. I disagree with Professor Hutchinsons analysis on several points. He makes the link between Corzine just as Steele does but this is a bad comparison as steve benen points out.

First, Corzine and Paterson are not exactly in the same boat, and the comparison is silly. Corzine is running this year; polls show him trailing but closing the gap; and there wasn't a stronger candidate last year, waiting in the wings. Paterson is up next year; polls show him with almost comically low approval ratings; and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) is strongly favored by voters, both among Democrats and among voters in general.

Professor Hutchinson makes several other points involving the role that race plays here. I am not going to deny that patterson's opponents may be racially motivated. i dont have evidence either way. What i could say is that it places the president in an awkward position when Gov Paterson runs and gets trounced by Cuomo. He has to either support one of the only black governors in the country in a losing bid risking charges of racial bias or he has to back cuomo instigating charges such as the ones that prof. hutchinson makes, favoritism for elites, pay for play etc. It is better for Obama to try and head off this type of choice.

Developing a deeper bench of african american candidates is an important goal. backing a losing candidate because he is black is not. paterson running creates a mess and its not something obama will want to deal with. obama has shown himself to be adverse to these types of complications. he wants the safe noncontroversial candidate ala joe lieberman over lamont.

The point is that i think there are very compelling reasons for Obama to urge Paterson not to run that have nothing to do with the Kennedy appointment fiasco. the world wont end if paterson runs but it will make obama's life more difficult.


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