Question of the Day: Black Politicians Under the Racial Radar?

While I’ve been in New York Governor David Paterson has made some highly interesting statements about his poll numbers, the media and race. On a radio show, Paterson blamed some of his low standing with the public on a vicious press fueled in some parts by racism.

More after the jump.

From the NY Daily News:

“The whole idea is to get me not to run in the primary,” Paterson complained on a morning radio show hosted by Daily News columnist Errol Louis.

He suggested that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the country’s only other African-American governor, also is under fire because of his race.

“We’re not in the post-racial period,” Paterson said.

“The reality is the next victim on the list – and you can see it coming – is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than trying to reform a health care system.”

Paterson said the campaign against him is being “orchestrated” by reporters who would rather make the news than report it.

Daily Post columnist and talk show host Errol Lewis agrees that Paterson has been treated roughly by the press, but thinks it’s unfair to lay race as the factor to his low poll numbers — which are low with both black and white New Yorkers.

Paterson is the most progressive governor in decades. He raised taxes on the wealthy, has championed same-sex marriage and raised the basic welfare grant for the first time in 18 years.

He also reformed the Rockefeller drug laws, began a historic reworking of the penal laws, and made good use of federal stimulus dollars for programs such as the $200 back-to-school grants for low-income families.

On basic governance issues, Paterson deserves credit for putting on the pressure – including back-to-back special sessions and the naming of a lieutenant governor – that broke the state Senate deadlock. And he was part of the team that passed an anti-nepotism law.

The political attacks on Paterson, gleefully magnified by the media, rarely acknowledge the good he has done. I remain surprised that so many civic and political activists seem willing to toss him overboard.

But Paterson is wrong to claim that the opposition and his low poll numbers are largely the result of racism. The truth is that incumbent governors in all states face deep political trouble because of harsh cuts made necessary by economic recession and falling tax revenues.

I haven’t been following New York politics very closely since Paterson took over for Eliot Spitzer amidst that diamond-ranked whore-gate, so I can’t give a proper gage on what Paterson’s coverage has been like.

To my New York readers I ask (and anyone else who’s been playing along at home), is Paterson right in complaining that some of his harsh media scrutiny is about race OR is he just a politician in New York — the most vicious media market in the country? I was always told you had to come big or go home in the NYC. Is that what’s going on here or is it something else?

9 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Black Politicians Under the Racial Radar?

  1. I’m a NY reader. Governor Paterson’s downfall has nothing to do with race, but his lack of leadership. Early on he was celebrated for the historical achievement of being the first Black governor of this state. The media was not even ultra-critical of him when he disclosed his marital and early substance abuse issues only days into office. Paterson had a media honeymoon, until he and his staffers mishandled the process to nominate someone for Hillary Clinton’s vacant senate seat. While he has had some political victories as mentioned by Errol Louis, the reality is that it is difficult to grasp the idea that Paterson has not been given a fair shot at doing his job. I believe that politicians of all races around the nation have been equally criticized. Apparently President Obama’s advisors are quite miffed at Paterson for dragging the president into the conversation, and do not wish to be a part of this situation. Stay tuned.

  2. Let’s not forget the anger that Paterson’s budget caused with it’s proposed taxes on almost everything. Not to mention the animosity between Paterson and Bloomberg over the budget. Then Paterson looked impotent during the NY state senate circus and finally he illegally tried to appoint a lieutenant governor. The real problem is that other Democrats don’t want Paterson to run b/c he is so unpopular and they are afraid if he does that it will drag them down.

  3. I can be Patterson’s race, leadership skills, messy personal life, his handicap (lampooned often on SNL), the poor economy and budget cuts, all conspiring to the governor’s low poll numbers.

  4. So being black forced Patterson to completely bungle finding a replacement for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat? And being black made him backtrack on instituting a soda tax to raise much needed revenue for NY? Maybe he could say that being thrust into the role of governor so abruptly required him to adjust and that the learning curve was high but throwing out the race card is just silly.As a New Yorker all I can say is Governor, please.

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