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Democratic county leaders to discuss NY governor race

ALBANY - Democratic leaders from about 10 counties are planning a rare meeting Saturday without the state party's leadership to discuss whether Attorney General Andrew Cuomo should be running for governor rather than Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson.

State Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, picked for the job by Paterson, won't attend. Organizers denied his request to reschedule the meeting, said Albany County Democratic chairman Dan McCoy.

"He wanted to be here, he had concerns and that it looks like we're superseding the state committee," McCoy said in an interview Friday.

State Democratic Committee members, who will decide months from now whom the party should back, also weren't invited.

McCoy said he planned a small regional meeting that gained far wider interest among all 62 county chairmen on its own. No vote is planned, just discussion, he said.

Jacobs said the organizers had invited at least 57 county chairmen outside New York City for an unprecedented session of local leaders, but is getting a poor turnout. Jacobs said at least three or four leaders attending are "for the governor."

"I was unhappy that this was the process," Jacobs said Friday, but added: "It's falling flat. . . . The fact that someone chose to do that would concern me if the response was better."

Democrats are concerned about potentially large numbers of losses by Democratic incumbents in local races in the fall and this month's shocker when a Republican won a U.S. Senate seat in even more heavily Democratic Massachusetts.

"I said we need leadership," McCoy said. "I just don't want the backlash that happened in Massachusetts to happen here."

Doug Muzzio, a politics professor at Baruch College in Manhattan, said a signal is being sent: "The signal is: 'Mr. Governor, you will not get the 25 percent you need to get on the ballot in the state committee meeting in May. Do you want to be embarrassed?' "

Spokesmen for Cuomo and Paterson didn't respond to requests for comment.

State & Region