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Scarborough disagrees with guv’s racism claim

One Queens official was among the elected leaders who reacted with skepticism to the claims of racism embattled Gov. David Paterson angrily leveled against the media during a surprising public interview.

“We’re not in the post-racial period,” New York’s first black governor said in an interview on WWRL radio Saturday. “My feeling is it’s being orchestrated, it’s a game and people who pay attention know that.”

The comments appeared to perplex state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans), who is also black.

“I think the governor is disappointed because he perceives that he is not receiving credit for things that he has done,” he said. “I don’t agree with attributing it to race.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined to speculate on the motivations behind Paterson’s comments.

“You’ll have to ask him what he’s thinking,” Bloomberg said at a news conference in Queens Monday, but he noted he sympathized with Paterson’s frustration with the way news outlets covered certain stories.

“I think the governor should work as hard as he can, not worry about the polls, not worry about his political future,” the mayor said.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Paterson, who took office in early 2008 after Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal, has suffered from a number of political setbacks, including his controversial appointment of U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Hudson) to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He faces diminishing prospects for election in 2010.

Scarborough said Paterson incurred the wrath of New Yorkers by mishandling the situation with Gillibrand’s potential rival for the seat, Caroline Kennedy, whose alleged shortcomings were leaked anonymously to the media.

“They saw Caroline Kennedy as an icon and saw that she was trashed [by Paterson],” the assemblyman said.

Though Paterson’s approval rating has increased two points to 30 percent since June, according to an Aug. 16 Quinnipiac University Poll, he still trailed state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo 61 percent to 15 percent among voters in a hypothetical primary matchup.

Paterson also warned that “the next victim on the list” was President Barack Obama, whose efforts to reform the country’s health care system has met with heavy resistance.

The governor later released a statement indicating he did not mean to imply a media conspiracy, but rather that some organizations used racial stereotypes in their reporting.

“From a point of view from the state of New York we need a strong executive,” Scarborough said. “And it doesn’t serve any of us to have this situation.”

Reach reporters Ivan Pereira and Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com.

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