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State legislative leaders huddle with Paterson

Gov. David Paterson speaks at a breakfast forum

Gov. David Paterson speaks at a breakfast forum in New York, Monday, March 1, 2010. Credit: AP

ALBANY - Top legislative leaders met privately for more than an hour with Gov. David A. Paterson on Tuesday, although Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the topic of Paterson's resignation never came up.

"I do not feel he should resign," Silver said as he and Senate Democratic chief John Sampson of Brooklyn emerged from the Executive Mansion at 1:15 p.m. Sampson, however, refused to roll down his car window to speak with reporters.

Meanwhile, Jay Jacobs, head of the Nassau and state Democratic committees, arrived as the legislative leaders were leaving. Jacobs said a New York Times story Tuesday morning detailing allegations that Paterson and members of the State Police interfered in a domestic violence case involving a top Paterson aide "presents a problem."

Without saying whether Paterson should remain in office, Jacobs said "the governor should be given "an opportunity to assess the situation."

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Earlier Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch said he does not believe Paterson should step down and has made no preparations to succeed him.

"I'm not aware of any compelling reason for him to resign at this point," Ravitch told reporters in the Capitol. "I think the governor will end up doing what he thinks is best for the state of New York . . . I hope very much that he does not resign."

Asked if he had begun thinking about succeeding Paterson, Ravitch said, "No, I'm not at all . . . I certainly have no interest at this point in my life in changing my role in any respect whatsoever."

Also Tuesday, the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women said it was time for Paterson to "step aside" after Tuesday's Times report.

"In spite of the governor's heretofore excellent record on women's issues, it is now time for the governor to step down," said NOW-NYS president Marcia Pappas.

Meanwhile, a new poll showed that while two-thirds of voters agree Paterson shouldn't quit, they have significant doubts about whether he can function effectively.

The Marist College Poll found 66 percent of registered voters think Paterson should serve out the remaining 300-plus days of his term. Twenty-eight percent said he should resign and six percent were unsure.

Still, 62 percent said Paterson would not be an effective leader over the next 10 months, while nearly 40 percent said they believe he can fulfill his responsibilities.

"When it comes to Governor Paterson resigning from office, New Yorkers are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt," said pollster Lee M. Miringoff. "But regarding his ability to govern effectively, voters have plenty of doubts."

The poll of 646 voters was conducted Feb. 22 and Feb. 24, before Tuesday's New York Times report that Paterson ordered two state employees to contact the woman at the center of an Oct. 31 alleged attack by aide David Johnson. The Times first reported Paterson's involvement in the alleged effort to contact the victim on its Web site the night of Feb. 24.

Forty percent said Paterson acted unethically, but not illegally, in speaking to the woman. After their conversation, she failed to show up in Bronx Family Court and her request for an order of protection was dismissed.

The Marist survey also found that few voters have heard of Ravitch, the next in the line of succession.

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