President Barack Obama reportedly has asked New York governor David Paterson, a vocal proponent of marriage equality and one of two African-American governors in the nation, not to run for office in 2010, out of concern that his chronically low approval ratings indicate he would lose the race to a Republican.
The request, which was sent to Paterson this week via Congressman Gregory Meeks of Queens, according to The New York Times, represents "an extraordinary intervention into a state political race by the president," motivated by the broader interests of the state Democratic Party in next November's midterm elections.
"But Mr. Obama's political team and other party leaders have grown increasingly worried that the governor's unpopularity could drag down Democratic members of Congress in New York, as well as the Democrat-controlled legislature, in next fall's election," reported The New York Times.
The request likely opens the door for Andrew Cuomo, the popular New York attorney general, to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. However, as of Sunday, Paterson, the state's first African-American governor, was said to be resistant to the suggestion that he step aside.
Paterson, a former lieutenant governor who has never been elected to the top spot, took office in March 2008 after the abrupt resignation of Eliot Spitzer because of a prostitution scandal.
In addition to sliding approval ratings, which now hover around 20%, Paterson has experienced strains with the Obama administration during his tenure as governor. This past winter, he publicly snubbed Caroline Kennedy, a close ally of Obama, in appointing Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate when the latter resigned to become secretary of state. Last month, Paterson said that criticism against him was racially motivated, and suggested that Obama would inevitably encounter the same.
As governor, Paterson has been an outspoken proponent of marriage equality. He introduced a same-sex marriage bill in April that passed the assembly, as it did in 2007. However, the legislation was stalled in the senate by a coup that paralyzed the chamber for weeks in June.
Recently, Paterson told The Advocate that he planned to put the marriage equality bill before the senate during the special session this fall.
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