Top Paterson Campaign Guru Bails After Less Than a Year

Quits job for business reasons, she says

By Jennifer Millman
|  Saturday, Jan 23, 2010  |  Updated 11:44 AM EDT
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Top Paterson Campaign Guru Bails

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Paterson hasn't had much to smile about thes days.

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In yet another indication that Gov. David Paterson's flagging poll numbers and fund-raising woes pose too great a challenge to surmount in his upcoming gubernatorial campaign, a top campaign strategist jumped ship after less than a year on the job.

Tracy Sefl, the governor's top aide and spokesperson in Washington, said in a short resignation statement to reporters that she continues to support Paterson, but is leaving for business reasons, according to the Daily News.

"I remain supportive and admiring of [Paterson] and his agenda for the state," Sefl said.

Analysts have credited Sefl, a longtime Democratic operative who worked on Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and John Kerry's 2004 bid for the White House, with refining Paterson's message and helping his approval numbers inch up.

But insiders tell the News the small increments of progress can't mask the gargantuan challenges that face Paterson's campaign for election. He announced pitiful fund-raising numbers this week and polls continue to indicate Attorney General Andrew Cuomo would slaughter him in a potential Democratic primary match-up.

"Clearly the appearance is that you've got high-level folks abandoning ship," Baruch College's Doug Muzzio told the News of Sefl's resignation.

Party leaders have been talking for months about finding someone other than Paterson to head the Democratic ticket, and a top labor leader this week gave a resounding call for Cuomo to take the governor's place.

Paterson dismisses the bad press and says he doesn't care how many analysts or party leaders want him to back out. On Thursday, he reiterated his intent to run for governor and said, "Someone is going to have to beat me."

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