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State Democrats want Paterson to rebut allegations

State Democratic Party leaders Thursday urged Gov. David A. Paterson in the next few days to publicly rebut allegations that have embroiled him in two ongoing scandals.

While not saying what they would do if their advice was ignored, the leaders agreed privately that Paterson's virtual silence was untenable in the face of daily damaging disclosures. Paterson has been accused of interfering in a domestic violence case involving an aide and lying under oath about receiving World Series tickets last fall.

"The governor needs time to make his case, not an unlimited amount of time . . . a matter of several days to get his case out there," Jay Jacobs, head of the state and Nassau Democratic committees, said after a phone conference with dozens of county leaders.

He continued, "We can't sustain an environment where we're going through hits without answers being made."

The New York Times reported last night that Paterson had more than one conversation with the alleged abuse victim and raised the case with her.

Citing an ongoing investigation by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Paterson has said he cannot discuss specifics of the domestic violence case. He has denied wrongdoing and vowed to publicly tell his side of the story once Cuomo's probe is completed. The governor disputes the ticket allegations made by the state ethics watchdog and has demanded a hearing.

Jacobs said there was consensus among party leaders that Paterson needed to speak soon. Asked if anyone called for Paterson to step down, Jacobs said, "No specific action was called for or suggested by anyone."

Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton convened an "emergency meeting" of about 30 African-American and Hispanic leaders at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem last night to consider whether Paterson should resign.

"For the most part" there was support for Paterson at the meeting, said Assemb. William Boyland Jr. (D-Brooklyn).

Asked on his way in whether Paterson should resign, former New York City mayor David Dinkins said "absolutely not." Dinkins lunched with Paterson Wednesday and said "you would not have thought he had a care in the world."

State Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) pointed to a public meeting Paterson convened with legislative leaders Wednesday to discuss the budget as evidence "he is governing." Critics have said Paterson is so weakened, he cannot run the state.

Before the Harlem meeting, state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx), head of the Senate's Puerto Rican and Latino Caucus, urged support for Paterson.

Earlier, Sen. Dean Skelos, the minority leader, gave Paterson a week or so to prove he can continue to govern. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) suggested he and other legislative leaders would have to "assess within the next week" whether Paterson can run the state.

Skelos said all of the allegations against Paterson "rise to the level of resignation."

The legislature's Democratic chiefs stood by Paterson. Sen. John Sampson of Brooklyn said: "We have one governor. There is no need for resignation."

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