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Support for Paterson dips in 2 polls

Two polls released this week indicate that Gov. David Paterson’s popularity among state residents has dropped slightly and that his huge lead over state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a possible 2010 gubernatorial race has all but disappeared.

New polls by Siena College and Quinnipiac University suggest that state voters’ drop in confidence in the governor could be the result of ongoing state budget issues as well as the process by which he recently selected U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D−N.Y.) to replace Hillary Clinton, who is now serving as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

One Queens elected official said he was not surprised that Paterson’s popularity has declined in recent weeks.

“The governor is supposed to be leader of the party,” state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D−Fresh Meadows) said. “Nobody wants to undermine him and we all want him to succeed because a successful Democratic governor trickles down. But this process of finding a replacement for Hillary Clinton did not inspire a lot of confidence in the way that government works.”

According to the Siena poll, the number of state residents who would vote for the governor over voting for Cuomo during the 2010 election dropped from 49 percent to 26 percent in December and from 35 percent to 33 percent this month. In December, Paterson eclipsed former Republican city Mayor Rudolph Giuliani 51 percent to 38 percent, according to the poll. But Paterson only led Giuliani by 44 percent to 42 percent in January.

Quinnipiac’s poll found that Paterson’s approval rating had only slipped from 53 percent one month ago to 50 percent this month. But Paterson’s approval rating was as high as 64 percent in August, according to the poll.

Lancman, who has introduced a bill with state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D−Howard Beach) that would give the public a chance to vote on a replacement for a U.S. senator representing the state should he or she leave office, said he was not disappointed in Paterson’s choice of Gillibrand, who was a second−term congresswoman from upstate New York.

“I’m rooting for her,” he said. “I think she has to evolve her views now that she represents a much broader district. But the process of selecting her was disturbing to me because I did not feel that it was open or honest. I think the governor could have guided the process with a lot more dignity and discretion and gotten a result that the party and the public could have been unified behind. Instead, the spectacle of the process has overcome the merits of the choice.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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