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Henican: Paterson election campaign? That was quick.

Gov. David A. Paterson, joined by wife Michelle,

Gov. David A. Paterson, joined by wife Michelle, speaks during a news conference in which he stated he would not seek a full term of his own. (Feb. 26, 2010) Credit: Craig Ruttle

That was quick.

After a short and exhausting campaign, Gov. David A. Paterson finally accepted what had been obvious to everyone but him: He really couldn't run for election and also run the state. Neither had been going very smoothly.

The question now is whether Paterson's deal will hold: By bailing from the governor's race, will he be able to last in Albany until Dec. 31?

That won't depend only on political pressure. His announcement on Friday has deflated much of that. His 10-month future will be determined by something less predictable than that: The press of investigators' questions and the rush of personal embarrassment.

He denied all wrongdoing - and quite forcefully. "I have never abused my office - not now, not ever," the accidental governor said. By deciding not to run, he explained, he was simply facing facts. "I am being realistic about politics," he said. "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."

New York does need a governor. And for the balance of this term, if he does manages to serve it, the real David Paterson may actually begin to emerge.

He's smart. He's funny. He's likable up close. He's focused over the years on important and difficult issues - domestic violence, prison conditions, Rockefeller drug-law reform and other thankless but pressing social challenges.

It's just that from the day he arrived in office with Eliot Spitzer's demise, he hasn't been shooting himself in the foot exactly. More like the knee, thigh, gut and back.

Cease fire, please.


WHOA! Testimony's getting raw in the upstate animal-cruelty trial of Massapequa horse breeder Ernest Paragallo. "All the horses had lice . . . You could see them crawling without parting the hair," said veterinarian Jerry Bilinski, describing the 177 "malnourished" thoroughbreds State Police seized from Paragallo's Center Brook Farm south of Albany. Paragallo, who bred 1996 Kentucky Derby favorite Unbridled's Song, has pleaded not guilty to 35 misdemeanor counts - and has had his thoroughbred license yanked by the state Racing and Wagering Board.


ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Paper boys? Gone. Snow-shovel kids? Gone. Well, what do you expect when you pay $12 an hour for baby-sitting? . . . Hungry for a nice slice of Daniele brand peppered salami? No! Stop! Five local salmonella cases already . . . Is Saji Francis Long Island's first fake drug addict? Judge Steven Jaeger says the Massapequa doctor claimed to be a heroin junkie and a pot head but his urine came back clean . . . How many times was this sentence e-mailed Friday morning? "Today's meeting will be rescheduled on account of . . ."? There should be a special snow-day keystroke for that . . . Was Bill Clinton tempted to just show up at the Crest Hollow Country Club for lunch on Friday - just for continuity's sake? Forty-one and 43 were there to lunch with the Long Island Association. Why not 42? . . . Four guilty pleas - and counting - from the seven defendants in the Marcelo Lucero hate-crime stabbing? How intense is the pressure now on the other three? . . . Re the extra LIRR snow-day service, can we please make that an every-Friday thing? We'll agree to leave work early. They'll agree to provide the trains. What's not fair about that? . . . Another nor'easter? What makes you think that's news? This year? Around here?


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