Preview: David Paterson becomes governor

Eyewitness News is in Albany
March 17, 2008 10:29:15 AM PDT
History will be made Monday in Albany. Lieutenant Governor David Paterson will be sworn-in as New York State's first black governor, a week after Governor Eliot Spitzer's involvement in a prostitution ring became public.

Spitzer resigned two days later.

Eyewitness News' political reporter Dave Evans is in Albany with a preview of Monday's big event.

In Albany Sunday, celebration and pride in New York's first African-American governor.

Democratic Assemblywoman Annette Robinson of Brooklyn said, "I think he will make the right and just decisions for such a time such as this.''

When David Paterson took the oath office as lieutenant governor 14 months ago, nobody could have dreamt the news: Eliot Spitzer caught on a federal wiretap allegedly soliciting a high-priced hooker.

A day later, Paterson, who is legally blind, strode to an Albany podium alone and assured the public he's ready for the task.

"Let me be very clear about this," Paterson said, "there may be a five day transition period but we are hard at work at the moment.''

In Harlem they couldn't have been happier, not in Spitzers demise but that a native son made it to the top.

Paterson, though, ignored all that, promptly beginning work on the state budget. What may have earned Paterson the most points this week is a famous sense of humor--it helped people relax and laugh a little after an awful week in state government.

When supporters broke into applause at his first news conference, Paterson said "If most of you weren't being paid I'd be flattered by that."

There is some concern though Paterson might be too liberal. He supported laws cracking down on police force and he's favored voting rights for non-citizens. But his supporters say that's the old David Paterson.

"Now David understands he represents New York State," says Hazel Dukes of the New York NAACP. "He is not the African American governor, he is the governor of the state of New York, he understands that."