ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his predecessor in New York’s highest office, David Paterson, will be the new chairman of the New York State Democratic Party.
Cuomo, who immediately followed Paterson in office, is announcing the choice Wednesday at the state party convention on Long Island.
A longtime state senator from Harlem, Paterson was lieutenant governor for two years when Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in a sex scandal. Paterson served two years as governor.
Assemblyman Keith Wright and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner have been party co-chairs, chosen by Cuomo in 2012. Miner recently resigned.
Paterson says “economic credibility” is at the center of the new party, with reduced taxes and job growth, while its opponents this fall “hail from the ultraconservative movement” against gay marriage, abortion rights and measures to help immigrants.
Meanwhile, Cuomo is expected to introduce his running mate as the state’s Democratic Party gathers to endorse its candidates for the fall elections.
Cuomo is widely expected to tap a running mate from upstate New York or voter-rich Long Island. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and former U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul, of Buffalo, have been mentioned as possibilities. Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy announced earlier this month he would not seek another term.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli won the Democratic Party’s nomination for a second term Wednesday on the convention’s first day. He faces Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci in the fall election. Polls give DiNapoli the lead over Antonacci but show many voters don’t have an opinion about his tenure.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was also expected to pick up the party’s nod Wednesday. Nominations for governor and lieutenant governor are scheduled for Thursday.
The details of the convention schedule haven’t been announced, fueling speculation about the identity of any invited speakers. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Cooperstown on Thursday. Both former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state and U.S. Senator from New York, have been mentioned as possibilities.
It is confirmed Mark Barden, the father of a 7-year-old boy killed at the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., will speak Wednesday afternoon about how gun control should not be a partisan issue. Gun control has become a contentious issue in New York following the passage of the SAFE Act, a gun control measure that bans the sale of some semi-automatic weapons and requires those who already own such firearms to register with authorities. The law was championed by Cuomo; his Republican opponent this fall has called for the law’s repeal.
Republicans held their convention last week, nominating Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino for governor, Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci for comptroller and John Cahill, a former top aide to former Gov. George Pataki, for attorney general.
Cuomo is well ahead in early polling, but Astorino has argued that his re-election in Democratic-leaning Westchester County shows he can compete with the governor for Democratic and moderate voters.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday finds Cuomo with a 57 percent to 28 percent lead over Astorino.
The poll shows a more liberal candidate running on the Working Families Party line would siphon support from the first-term governor, dropping Cuomo’s lead over Astorino to 37 percent to 24 percent.
Liberal activists have been unhappy with Cuomo’s business-friendly election-year budget, but no obvious candidate has emerged to take the governor on from his left.
The telephone poll of 1,129 New York state voters was conducted May 14-19 and has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.
The conventions signal the true beginning of election season, and a chance for the parties to unite behind a slate of candidates.
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