David Paterson's Solution to the Senate Stalemate (Updated)

The New York Senate has been stymied for weeks because of two major problems. One is that the Senate is deadlocked between 31 senators who support ...
by | July 8, 2009

The New York Senate has been stymied for weeks because of two major problems. One is that the Senate is deadlocked between 31 senators who support the Democratic leadership and 31 who support the Republicans. That wouldn't be a problem, except that the state currently has no lieutenant governor to break the tie.

Gov. David Paterson's solution? He's going to appoint a new lieutenant governor this evening, even though Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says that move is unconstitutional. The New York Times has the news:

ALBANY -- Gov. David A. Paterson will name a lieutenant governor in a televised speech he has scheduled for late Wednesday afternoon, according to a person close to the governor.

It remains unclear, however, whom he will pick.

The office of lieutenant governor has been vacant since Eliot Spitzer resigned last March. The lack of a lieutenant governor -- who casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate -- has become a particularly pressing issue amid a nearly five-week old stalemate in the State Senate that has halted business in the chamber. The Senate has been deadlocked since Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat, sided with the Senate's 30 Republicans, dividing the 62-member chamber.

Though any choice seems likely to prompt a legal battle, the big question now is who he will pick. Caroline Kennedy anyone?

Update: He's going to name Richard Ravitch, a former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Elizabeth Benjamin of the New York Daily News has helpful details:

Ravitch makes a lot of sense as a so-called "caretaker" LG.

He was born in 1933, and is unlikely to have a problem with not being able to run for the office he will hold through the end of 2010. The last time Ravitch ran for anything was in 1989 when he lost a Democratic mayoral primary to David Dinkins.

Ravitch is the ultimate elder statesman. He has worked for a president (Lyndon Johnson), a governor (Hugh Carey), and is credited with rescuing the mass transit system in the 1980s.

Last year, Paterson tapped Ravitch to head a panel to figure out how to fix the cash-strapped MTA - again.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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