A (Ticket) Balancing Act

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But where is the balance?

Eliot Spitzer says he’s going to run for governor with State Senate Minority Leader David Paterson as his lieutenant governor. Spitzer’s from Manhattan. Paterson is also from New York City.

So north-of-Rockland County-Democrats should be upset that upstate has been upstaged, right? Especially when we thought Leecia Eve was in line to be Spitzer’s number two. She is the daughter of a Buffalo-area institution – Arthur Eve. This would certainly tick-off the upstate contingent of Democrats, right?

Doesn’t seem like it.

Yes…Spitzer’s choice has rankled some power-brokers in the party – but they are largely old-guard downstaters like Rep. Charlie Rangel.

Up in our neck of the woods the official Democratic reaction sounds more like Joe Morelle’s: “I’m very okay with David Paterson… my concern was only that he pick someone who is skilled enough to step in and serve as governor.”

Morelle, the state assemblyman from Irondequoit and the Monroe County Democratic chairman has nothing bad to say about Leecia Eve. But he did add that she actually needs to “work on her upstate credentials.” While she is a product of a powerful Buffalo lineage, her experience has largely been as an aide to people like Sen. Hillary Clinton in Washington. Her lieutenant governor campaign headquarters is in Brooklyn.

But what about the balance, Joe?

“Ask 10 people on State Street if you can tell me who the lieutenant governor is and where she came from,” he said. “Few could name her and I’ll bet no one would know where she came from.”

To Morelle, there is too much emphasis on geographic balance. Downstate Hugh Carey ran and won with downstate Mario Cuomo as the lieutenant governor candidate in 1978. Four years later Cuomo ran with downstate Al DelBello and won.

“People are obsessed with it,” Morelle said. “Because it’s conventional wisdom.”

Could be. But it’ll mean that Spitzer and Paterson will have to give more face time and more lip service to the plight of upstate New York…. just to make sure.