Paterson won’t ‘raise expectations’ for Democratic Senate

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David Patterson (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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HUNTINGTON—David Paterson, the former governor and newly minted chairman of the Democratic State Committee, isn't so sure his party can win control of the State Senate in the coming elections.

Paterson, who served as the Democratic leader in the Senate before Eliot Spitzer tapped him to be his lieutenant in 2006, said at that time it was a “grandiose idea” that Democrats would take back the long-Republican-dominated Senate in a single election. And now?

“It's possible, but I don't want to raise expectations,” the governor told reporters. “I don't have the plan in my head right now, but we might have to settle for chipping away and also unifying the Democratic Party so that those Democrats who are in the Independent Democratic Conference could feel as comfortable as they once did when they were in the Democratic caucus. Then, in stages, we might win the majority.”

Democrats in the chamber are bullish about their chances, with or without reconciliation with the I.D.C.

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Some progressives have accused Governor Andrew Cuomo of preferring to keep the Senate in the hands of its current I.D.C.-G.O.P. coalition, which has been a useful foil for the governor to avoid being dragged from the political center. In 2012, Cuomo endorsed only a handful of Democrats and did not object when Republicans used his image in their campaign materials.

Paterson was known to stray from his prepared message as governor, and his comments about the Senate indicate he hasn't evolved away from the habit. He also said he was offered the chance to be the party leader on Monday—his 60th birthday—and hadn't fully been briefed on some issues before the committee.

“I don't really know yet,” Paterson said, asked if he supported efforts to urge Cuomo not to take the Independence Party line. “I mean, I was celebrating my birthday last night and I woke up and I was here.”