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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo tapped a new state chairman for the Democratic Party Wednesday -- his predecessor, former Gov. David A. Paterson.
Cuomo announced that Assemb. Keith Wright (D-Manhattan) was stepping down as chairman and Paterson was taking over as the party kicked off its 2014 convention in Melville. Cuomo had installed Wright and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner as co-chairs of the party in 2012. Miner, who clashed with Cuomo over economic initiatives, resigned earlier this year.
"Governor Paterson is one of New York State's finest public servants with a lifetime of fighting for a stronger and more progressive state, and there is no one better prepared to lead the state Democratic Party," Cuomo said in a statement. "I am pleased to welcome him on board and look forward to working together with him to strengthen our state and our party."
For his part, Paterson indicated he was a little surprised -- but happy -- to return to a role in the party.
"It's like that movie 'Carlito's Way,' when they're trying to get you back in the mob," Paterson told reporters, later adding: "I was celebrating my birthday last night and I woke up today and I was here."
Paterson became New York's first African-American governor in 2008 after then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal. He had a rough term, stumbling in scandals regarding New York Yankees' tickets and an aide charged with assault, and fighting with state legislators over budgets and unions over layoffs. He took it all in stride while addressing Democrat delegates.
Paterson told them: "So you thought you were rid of me."
A woman in the audience yelled: "We love you, David."