BY JASON FINK
AND EMILY NGO
Embattled Gov. David Paterson insisted Thursday that he will run for re-election in the face of a growing scandal over whether he and a state trooper acted improperly in contacting a woman seeking a protective order against one of his top aides.
While the governor said he would not suspend his campaign or resign, he left open the possibility of withdrawing from the race.
“Right now, I’m a candidate for governor,” Paterson told reporters at a Manhattan press conference. “I’m obviously listening to (other elected officials). … I want the Democrats to win in November.”
Patterson’s remarks came at the end of an extraordinary day that saw his political future all but destroyed. The governor faced a chorus of calls from fellow Democrats to at least halt his re-election bid while Attorney General Andrew Cuomo investigates. Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey called on Paterson, 55, to resign if the allegations are true.
The cabinet official who oversees the State Police, Denise O’Donnell, resigned, citing a report in the New York Times that quoted a woman saying she felt pressured by a member of Paterson’s security detail not to file domestic violence charges against Paterson aide David Johnson, who was suspended Wednesday.
“This is a fatal blow,” Sen. Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan), said on NY1 Thursday. “The campaign is in a place of no return.”
State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt acknowledged a trooper met with her but denied she was being pressed to drop the 2009 case.
Cuomo, widely expected to challenge Paterson in the fall Democratic primary, is looking into the allegations and a group of black lawmakers are set to huddle Saturday with the Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss the situation.
“Gov. Paterson should suspend his campaign pending the results of the Attorney General’s investigation,” said Assemb. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn).
Stan List, 65, of Manhattan, said Paterson “should step aside.”
Julia Borovskaya contributed to this story