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9/21: Mr. Obama Goes to New York…Squelches Mr. Paterson’s Chances?

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9/21: Mr. Obama Goes to New York…Squelches Mr. Paterson’s Chances?

With an approval rating still scraping bottom at 20% and with only 27% of New York State voters even wanting Governor David Paterson to seek election in 2010, it’s little wonder the White House is getting itchy.  Why is Washington so worried about the bluest of the blue states?

Lee Miringoff

Lee Miringoff

It’s not just the governorship that’s at stake.  It’s also about what could happen down ballot if Paterson is heading the ticket.  Paterson’s pick to replace Hilary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, also has very shaky numbers.  In fact, her 26% approval rating statewide is nothing to write home about.  She trails former Governor  George Pataki by 48% to 44% in an hypothetical pairing, and there’s always the possibility of Rudy Giuliani re-trying his 2000 Senate campaign.  More on that shortly.  Losing a Democratic U.S. Senate seat from New York would be nothing short of a disaster for the Obama Administration in next fall’s mid-term election.

The only thing not surprising in all this White House political pressure is that team Obama has already cleared the path for Gillibrand so that she can win her party’s nomination sans a primary fight.  Is this step two in their efforts to keep New York’s U.S. Senate seats in Democratic hands?

Of course, the immediate impact of the White House pulling the rug out from under Paterson is, I’m sure, not lost on any future occupants of the capital’s second floor in Albany.  That’s where the Crown Prince of New York politics Andrew Cuomo no doubt has set his sights.  Attorney General Cuomo is waiting in the gubernatorial wings holding the highest approval rating of any state official.  He cleans Paterson’s clock in a Democratic primary matchup and the White House has just provided Cuomo with all the political cover he could ever need to challenge fellow Democrat Paterson should Paterson decide to run.  Cuomo also bests Rudy Giuliani by 10% points should that be the eventual pairing.

What will Rudy do?  There are three schools of thought.  He can run for governor, but the odds just increased that heavyweight Andrew Cuomo will be his opponent.  He could challenge Gillibrand who seems more vulnerable.  Or, he could drop out of school altogether when it comes to campaign politics.  After all, his recent foray into the electoral college wasn’t particularly rewarding.  Rudy remains the marquee name in New York GOP circles but he hasn’t won anything in a very long time (1997).  He needs to make his intentions known soon if he really wants to get back into the political swing of things.

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Lee M. Miringoff is the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. Follow Lee on Twitter at @LeeMiringoff.

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