Gov, Firefighters Back Thompson

WNBC 4 - September 17, 2009


Governor David Paterson will officially endorse fellow Democrat Bill Thompson for Mayor on Friday, according to the following statement issued by the Governor's reelection campaign:

"Congratulations to Bill Thompson for his strong victory tonight securing the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York City. I look forward to standing with him on Friday to discuss why he is the best choice to lead New York City."

Thompson also got support today from the largest firefighters union local in the world -- the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, which represents 20,000 active and retired New York City firefighters and fire marshals.

Citing Bloomberg's decision to close firehouses and current proposals to shut more down, the leaders of the UFA stood together this afternoon and announced their support for Thompson.

"Bill Thompson is a leader who has demonstrated that he understands and can relate to the struggles of the working class families of New York," UFA President Steve Cassidy said in a statement. "Bill Thompson recognizes that the basic life saving services provided by New York City Firefighters can not be delivered if we are closing firehouses and reducing fire company staffing levels."

Unlike the UFA, Paterson took his time announcing the candidate he intended to support. The governor told NBC New York in March that he would "back the Democrat" in the Mayor's race. At the time, Bloomberg seemed surprised and told NBC New York he hoped Paterson would ultimately support his reelection. Then, over the summer, Paterson backtracked, suddenly refusing to repeat his support for Thompson.

Even yesterday after he voted in the Democratic primary, he refused to say who he had voted for.

Paterson's backpedaling led to speculation he was toying with Bloomberg, or remaining neutral, and in return winning Bloomberg's support in next year's Governor's race.

Since Paterson is also the de facto leader of the New York Democratic Party, his wavering also raised questions about the party's backbone in the battle for City Hall.

The statement put out by Paterson's campaign seems to put an end to that speculation. The question is whether Paterson's support will help or hurt Thompson -- Paterson's approval ratings are extremely low.

Paterson's approval ratings have taken a nosedive – again – amid public concern over his handling of the financial crisis and controversial comments he made about racial stereotypes in the media, according to a new poll.

For months, Paterson's approval rating - now at 20 percent - has been the lowest among governors in the country. And 70 percent of registered voters don't think he should run next year, according to the Marist College poll.