Q+A: What is happening with New York's governor?

NEW YORK Fri Mar 5, 2010 3:30pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Support for embattled New York Governor David Paterson is eroding, as a poll on Friday showed his approval rating among state voters is among the lowest on record.

Here are some questions and answers about Governor David Paterson.

HOW DID PATERSON BECOME GOVERNOR?

Paterson, a Democrat, was lieutenant governor and assumed the top job when Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in March 2008 amid a prostitution scandal. Paterson became the state's first African-American governor.

WHAT WAS PATERSON'S BACKGROUND?

Paterson spent more than two decades in the State Senate, where he was a popular, affable legislator who was seen working well with other members of the contentious body. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2006. He is legally blind, having lost most of his eyesight from an infection he suffered as a baby.

WHAT WENT WRONG IN ALBANY?

Personal problems plagued Paterson from his earliest days as governor when, addressing rumors, he disclosed that both he and his wife had extramarital affairs. He was seen as dithering and misguided in naming a successor to New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who left to become U.S. Secretary of State, and has wrestled poorly with the state legislature on budget issues. Critics say as governor, Paterson is in over his head.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE OFFICE OF GOVERNOR NOW?

Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch would assume the job if Paterson, whose term ends this year, resigns. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, is the Democratic front-runner in the campaign to fill the job, while former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio, who lost his bid for U.S. Senate in 2000 to Hillary Clinton, is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

WHAT HAPPENS TO PATERSON NOW?

Cuomo's office is investigating whether Paterson improperly intervened in a domestic abuse case brought against his aide David Johnson. A state ethics panel has accused Paterson of illegally soliciting free tickets to the 2009 World Series and has asked prosecutors to determine if criminal charges should be brought. He faces civil penalties of at least $40,000 if found guilty. Paterson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying he never abused his office.

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