N.Y. Gov. Paterson: "I'm black, I'm blind, and I'm still alive"

New York governor says he'll only leave office by the ballot box, or "in a box"

Published February 11, 2010 12:05AM (EST)

Though he's managed to avoid, for now, the long-rumored New York Times investigative story about him -- and the resignation that was supposed to come along with it -- the past few weeks have not been kind to New York Gov. David Paterson. But he doesn't seem to be willing to go gentle into that good night.

The latest bit of bad news to hit Paterson was a report from a New York television station that federal prosecutors are looking into a casino contract he awarded. His counsel has issued a denial, but at this point every additional bit of bad news just makes Paterson seem more beleaguered than ever.

The governor isn't taking this lying down, though. He's been in a precarious positon for months now, all but certain to lose in the Democratic primary this fall to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. But instead of using all his troubles as an excuse to get out of the race, he seems more determined than ever; he's scheduled an official re-election announcement, and during a Tuesday press conference, he said, "The only way I'm not gonna be governor next year is at the ballot box, and the only way that I'll be leaving office before is in a box."

On Wednesday, Paterson passionately defended himself during an interview with Don Imus, saying, "I think the special interests and that relationship with some media outlets is creating the scenario that somehow I should not be reelected when in fact I have closed $33 billion of deficit in twenty months. I have made these payments to all the state’s creditors. I’ve made sure that the schools and the local governments have been funded, balanced budgets, kept the credit ratings strong. I’m black, I’m blind, and I’m still alive. Now how much better do they want me to be?"

Paterson also addressed the rumors that have been plaguing him, tracing them back to an admission of an extramarital affair that he made shortly after taking office.

"I have been depicted in a way that has been racialized, sexualized, hyper-sexualized and dissolute. And the realty is, it is hard to diminish this kind of uproar when it gets started," he said.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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