Run, David, run

Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.

And now, Andrew Cuomo is the only one who has anything to really gain from this current debacle. Cuomo cannot run for governor against Gov. David Paterson. For him to do that would be potential political suicide, so he needs a way to get the sitting governor out of the picture. Get him not to run. Using the clout that the attorney general has in the White House, they create the "Giuliani Factor."

They begin to throw out "If Giuliani runs," trying to scare folks into saying that Paterson cannot take him on. But does Giuliani want to run? Does he want to be governor? Does he want to deal with the headache of a crazy Legislature? Does he want to do the work? Does Giuliani want to do the fundraising and campaigning so soon after his crushing and humiliating defeat in last year's presidential race? And is his donor base ready to invest in him after his poor showing when he was presumed to be the front-runner in that race as well? And has he even paid off his debts that he ran up for his presidential bid?

We don't know what the mercurial Giuliani has on his mind. And we do not expect to know until after the November elections. So why ask Paterson to bow out now? Why not wait until November, or longer, to make any kind of decision?

Giuliani does pose a clear challenge to the governor. He plays to the worst instincts of white New Yorkers. From his days of inciting a police riot against David Dinkins before he became mayor, to ignoring Black and Hispanic New York City residents and criticizing Black male victims of police brutality, it was an ugly reign of terror for people of color during his eight years here in New York City

But there is a catch-22 or a "chicken before the egg" scenario here. If Paterson stays in the race, does Giuliani get in? If Giuliani gets into the race, does Paterson get out? If Paterson gets out and Giuliani stays out, Andrew Cuomo sweeps Rick Lazio--but anyone could mop the floor with Lazio--so, in that case, why doesn't Paterson stay in?

The whole house of cards is built upon the assumption that Giuliani will run. That is not a foregone conclusion, far from it. And maybe this time New Yorkers will rise above the demagogue tactics of the visceral former mayor.

Getting Paterson out would create a free ride for Cuomo to the governor's mansion, unopposed by a person of color in a primary. And the Cuomo family has not earned that. Make Andrew Cuomo earn our votes. Don't let him be anointed.

And Gov. Paterson, stay in the race. You can still win.