Published in
The Empire

How Paterson prepared to govern and the myth he later discovered

David Paterson, refreshingly candid, told a group of upstate editorial boards that the job he's living isn't what it's cracked up to be.

"The governor is somewhat of a mythical figure. Everyone thinks that the governor has greater influence than the governor actually has," said Paterson in the meeting, which was streamed live on the Democrat and Chronicle website. Paterson said there's little he can do to force consensus on an issue when legislative leaders dig in their heels.

One notable moment came when a reporter asked Paterson about how much time he spent thinking about governing the state when he was serving as lieutenant governor.

"Does he or she form a plan for governing sort of like somebody coming in for the quarterback," the reporter asked. "Did you form a plan before ascending to office?"

In short, Paterson's answer was no.

"If the governor is walking around and the lieutenant governor is planning what he's going to do when he takes over, that would be the catalyst for an acrimonious relationship," Paterson said.

Paterson was Eliot Spitzer's lieutenant governor, and they did not have an acrimonious relationship. Paterson did say that Spitzer did include him on important leadership meetings.

Despite the access he was granted, Paterson said, "I realized in the first couple of days that I became governor that there was so much going on that I didn't know about."