New York, NY –
Gov. David Paterson will not run for election this year, but he insists he will serve out the remainder of his term in office.
The embattled governor, who faces allegations that he and the state police interfered with a domestic violence case against a longtime aide, announced Friday afternoon that he was withdrawing from the campaign. The announcement comes just days after Paterson formally kicked off his election bid with an event at Hofstra University.
"There are times in politics when you have to know not to strive for service but to step back. That moment has come for me," Paterson said at a Friday afternoon press conference.
Paterson said he would not resign. "There are 308 days left in my term. I will serve every one of them fighting for the people of New York."
Paterson's withdrawal leaves Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as the leading Democratic contender for the gubernatorial nomination. Cuomo has not announced his candidacy. "I will announce my plans at the appropriate time," he said in a statement released this afternoon.
Cuomo's office this week opened an investigation into whether Paterson and the state police made improper contact with a woman who made domestic abuse claims against David Johnson, a top Patterson aide.
At his press conference, Paterson insisted that he did not exert improper influence in the case. "I have never abused my office -- not now, not ever," he said.
The allegations surrounding Paterson's involvement in the Johnson case proved to be the death knell for a campaign plagued by a host of other problems. Paterson suffered from low approval ratings in the polls, difficulty raising campaign funds, and received little support from fellow Democrats.
Some Democrats say the governor will have to do more than end his campaign, and are calling for him to resign.
"We have a $4.1 billion budget deficit to grapple with in New York City and cannot make real progress until the state budget is resolved on time one month from now. In order for this to happen, we need Governor Paterson to step down now," New York City Comptroller John Liu said in a statement.
Before Paterson's announcement, State Sen. Bill Perkins said the governor should step down now. "He knows what he did, who he talked to," Perkins told WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show this morning. "He knows under whose order the state troopers contacted this woman. If the investigation turns out the way many suspect, his resignation is almost inevitable. If that is the case then it is in the best interests of the people of New York for him to cut bait now."
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