Former New York Governor, David Paterson, the first African-American governor of New York said yesterday that he might be open to running for Rep. Charlie Rangel’s Congressional seat in Harlem if Rangel, 83, decides not to run again.
The future of Rangel’s seat has been the source of speculation in New York for years as Rangel aged, and was the focus of House ethics investigations into his finances. While Rangel hasn’t said whether he’ll try to hold on to the seat he’s had for more than 40 years, observers in New York are speculating that he might be done because he had just $160,000 in his campaign account at the end of June. Rep. Peter King, a longtime Long Island Republican, by comparison, had more than $2.5 million in his account, according to the Federal Elections Commission.
“I’m definitely looking at it,” Paterson said Monday about the idea.
Paterson is a familiar face and name in Harlem because it is the district he represented for many years as a state senator beginning in 1985 and because his father, Basil Paterson is one of the deans of Harlem politics. New Yorkers are drawn to Paterson’s possible return because it comes on the heels of an attempted comeback by Paterson’s former boss, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is running for New York City comptroller.
Paterson became governor after Spitzer was forced to resign following the revelation of his involvement in a prostitution scandal, moving Paterson, then the lieutenant governor, into the governor’s mansion in 2008.
Paterson became an unpopular figure because his tenure was during the heart of the nation’s fiscal crisis, forcing him to spend his brief term cutting, spending and ordering layoffs.
“It had gotten to the point that the only friends I had left were Republicans,” Paterson joked.
Paterson, who will be 60 next year, opened up the possibility that a younger candidate might be better for Rangel’s seat.
“I’m looking to see if someone will come forward to really speak for a changing and diverse community that is the congressional district,” Paterson said. “But I just find that the types of people I emulated when I was going around and served just aren’t around anymore. Everyone is a deal maker. And that is what doesn’t close off my interest.”
Paterson said in an interview with The Associated Press, that he is enjoying “the brand of being an ex-governor.” After the state bore the full brunt of the economic crisis Paterson predicted, he got a measure of redemption.
“People stop me and say, ‘They gave you a raw deal, I liked how hard you tried,'” Paterson said.