A month ago, Gov. David Paterson’s political obituary had been written.
The “resignation watch” was on as the governor faced a growing chorus calling on him to step down amid accusations he tried to make a domestic violence complaint against a top aide disappear.
While the investigation about the alleged cover-up, as well as a probe into his accepting of free World Series tickets, may upend his world again, Paterson seems to have regained his footing and is now repairing his legacy, starting first with attempts to close the state’s $9 billion budget gap.
“What happens with the budget will say a lot about the governor’s post-government prospects,” said former state Comptroller Carl McCall.
After weeks of bruising headlines and fading political support, Paterson’s fortunes took a positive turn on March 4, when a group of black leaders, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, publicly supported the governor after a sit-down at Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem.
“It seemed like the whole tide changed for him and put him in a better light,” said City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who attended the meeting. “I think you’re seeing a rebound for Paterson.”
The vote of confidence from his political base, as well as public opinion polls showing most wanted him to stay in office, combined to buoy his failing administration.
“I think it’s clear that people want the governor to continue doing his job,” said state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs. “The people of New York don’t want to jump to conclusions and don’t want to prejudge anything.”
Those close to Paterson floated a number of theories for what he may do when his term is up, from seeking work at a university or think tank to a role as a TV commentator.
A spokesman for the governor, who has seen several top aides abandon ship since his troubles began, declined to comment.
Still, many are convinced Paterson is far from out of the woods as the investigations — which there are no clear timetable for — go on.
“Even though there may be a temporary reprieve, it may be just that – temporary,” said Doug Muzzio, a professor at Baruch College.