Paterson ready to assume NY governorship

March 17, 2008 6:02:54 AM PDT
Welcome to Day One, take two.

Lt. Gov. David Paterson prepared to take over Monday for Gov. Eliot Spitzer, whose vow as he took office of "Day One, Everything Changes," was unraveled a week ago by revelations of a prostitution scandal.

At his swearing-in as the state's 55th governor, Paterson plans to use his inaugural speech to project confidence and optimism, while relating his own personal struggles to New York's ability to overcome its own challenges, an aide to the lieutenant governor said.

Paterson will become the state's first black governor and the nation's first legally blind chief executive to serve more than a few days.

After acknowledging what a difficult week it has been for the state, Paterson plans to talk about the need for Republicans and his fellow Democrats to work together to address pressing issues, including the state budget.

On Sunday, Paterson was catching up on budget details and preparing - and memorizing - his inauguration speech.

Spitzer was scheduled to officially resign at noon Monday, and Paterson will officially take over an hour later before a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chamber. He spent much of last week meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders in preparation for his unexpected transition.

The new governor was Spitzer's lieutenant for just 14 months. Paterson has been a Democratic state senator since 1985, representing parts of Harlem and Manhattan's Upper West Side.

He graduated from Columbia University and Hofstra School of Law.

His father, Basil, a former state senator representing Harlem and later New York's first black secretary of state, was part of a political fraternity that included fellow Democrats U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins - the city's first black mayor - and former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton.

"It's very daunting" Paterson said Friday. "I definitely feel anxiety ... but in the end, we have a job to do. And we're here to do that job."

Federal prosecutors must still decide whether to pursue charges against Spitzer. The married father of three teenage girls was accused of spending tens of thousands of dollars on prostitutes - including a call girl "Kristen" in Washington the night before Valentine's Day.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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