NEW YORK (Reuters) - David A. Paterson would become the first African-American governor of New York if the current governor, Eliot Spitzer, resigns in the wake of allegations of ties to prostitution.
Paterson, who is legally blind, was elected lieutenant governor in November 2006 together with Spitzer. The New York Times said the governor, a Democrat and former state attorney general, was caught on a federal wiretap last month as he arranged to meet a prostitute.
Spitzer, in a brief public appearance, apologized to New York voters and his family for what he called a “private matter” without making reference to the New York Times report or resignation.
The leader of the minority Republicans in the state Assembly, James Tedisco, called for Spitzer’s resignation. Spitzer’s term ends in 2010.
A lawyer by training, Paterson became a public servant in 1985, when he began representing Harlem in the New York State Senate, according to the New York governor’s Web site.
In 2002, he became its minority leader, the first non-white legislative leader in New York’s history. In 2004, he became the first legally blind person to address the Democratic National Convention.
Paterson was born in Brooklyn to Portia and Basil Paterson. His father was the first non-white secretary of state of New York and the first African-American vice-chair of the national Democratic Party.
The lieutenant governor earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Columbia University, graduating in 1977, and completed his J.D. at Hofstra Law School in 1982. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia’s School for International and Public Affairs.
Paterson lives in Harlem with his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, and their two children. Paterson, who ran the New York City marathon in 1999, also is a member of the board of the Achilles Track Club.
Paterson has proposed legislation for a $1 billion voter-approved stem cell research initiative and advocated a statewide alternative energy plan. He also has been involved in legislation on domestic violence prevention and promoting minority- and women-owned businesses.
Reporting by Anastasija Johnson and Walden Siew in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler