State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a Democrat from the Bronx, responded to the news that Gov. David Paterson, a Democrat, is abandoning his re-election bid with some harsh words for the governor.
Paterson’s announcement came after a report in The New York Times that the state police had pressured a woman who was pursuing domestic violence charges against one of his top aides and that the governor had contacted the woman. In a phone conversation this afternoon, Diaz said the questions raised by the Times article reveal that Paterson is a hypocrite who will “drag down the state Democratic Party.”
Diaz pointed to Paterson’s criticism of State Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who was expelled by the State Senate after being convicted of slashing his girlfriend in December 2008. Paterson publicly supported Monserrate’s expulsion. Today, Diaz said, “While Governor Paterson was criticizing Hiram, he was protecting and covering for his staff, and I think this is hypocritical.” The governor’s political downfall, Diaz said, should serve as a warning “to those who went after Hiram Monserrate like Governor Paterson did.”
By late Thursday evening, Paterson’s deputy communications director, Marissa Shorenstein, had not responded to a request for comment on Diaz’s statements.
Though they belong to the same party, Paterson, Diaz and Monserrate have a contentious relationship. In June last year, Monserrate and Pedro Espada Jr., a Democrat from the 33rd District in the Bronx, formed a coalition with Republicans in the State Senate who voted to strip Democrats of their majority in Albany. Diaz abstained rather than voting with Espada and Monserrate, but he showed his support for the effort by staying during the vote when almost all of the other Democrats walked off the Senate floor. Diaz and Monserrate have also clashed with the governor over their opposition to same-sex marriage, which the governor supports.
Now that Paterson will not be seeking re-election, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is expected to win the Democratic Party’s nomination in the fall. Diaz said of Cuomo: “Well, it seems like people like him… the Democratic Party has no other choice now, he is the candidate.” Asked if he was considering making a run for governor with Paterson out of the running, Diaz laughed and said, “Get out of here. Bye, take care.” Before hanging up, he added: “I’m already elected to the Senate. Governor is too big for me, I’m just running for my re-election to the Senate.”
Additional reporting by Ian Thomson