Gov. David Paterson’s cuts to hospitals and schools throughout the state have made him unpopular with many voters, but the criticism is intensifying in the black community, according to The New York Times.
Black legislators slammed the governor at a recent meeting, saying they were left out of important discussions and their constituents are furious over the budget cuts.
Paterson did have a friend in the Rev. Al Sharpton, who argued black leaders should support the governor, especially now. It’s doubtful that will happen, the Times reports.
It’s been a year of ups and downs for the unlikely governor, but the debacle surrounding Caroline Kennedy’s botched bid for Hillary Clinton’s vacant senate seat unleashed a series of competence questions that sent his poll numbers plummeting. And the tough economic decisions he’s faced in the last few months have only made things worse.
Black legislators, voters and clergy members have been Paterson's strongest block of support, according to the Times. But that loyalty has deteriorated along with the city’s economic growth.
While most voters have called Paterson’s effectiveness into question, the problem among black voters is more personal. Black voters see his attempts to transform himself into a moderate, fiscally conservative politician as a leap from the liberal Democrat who championed social programs they took pride in last year.
Less than half of black voters in New York approve of how Paterson is doing his job, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. Last summer, two thirds of black voters said the governor was handling his job well.
“To be below 50 percent among any group is bad,” Maurice Carroll, director of the university’s polling institute, told the Times. “But there’s no way a black governor can get re-elected when he’s below 50 percent among black voters. That’s desperation time.”
Paterson has stepped up his efforts to shore up support in the black community by appearing on ethnic radio shows, speaking at black churches, and confronting the swirling questions head on, according to the Times. Some black voters feel the governor has been unfairly blamed for the tough times, but it appears the majority is just disappointed.
“There is some letdown from people who were so proud of his ascension,” city council member Charles Barron told the Times. “People have to realize that when we invest our aspirations in you, we expect more. We expect better.”