by Maria Rosa
Leecia Eve, former lieutenant governor hopeful
She was, young, talented, intelligent, graceful and ready for a political office groomed for one since childhood a scion from a local political African-American family. She had her eyes on the mundane office of Lt. governor of New York State. And in March 2005, she started to reach out for endorsements in her home town.
Will Eve be Cuomo’s Lt. Governor?
Leecia Eve, daughter of Arthur O. Eve, former Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly , former legal advisor to then U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, graduate of City Honors High School, Smith College and Harvard University Law School, had tossed her hat in 2005 for lieutenant governor in the gubernatorial campaign of 2006. She looked as though she was on her way until then Senate Minority Leader David Paterson coveted the spot and maneuvered secretly behind the scenes for the endorsement even after Eve garnered the support of the “Gang of Four” – with former New York Mayor David Dinkins, former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, and Congressman Charles Rangel – Paterson’s father had been a leader of the “Harlem Clubhouse“, which has dominated Harlem politics since the 1960s. And Michelle Paterson had co-sponsored a fund-raiser for Leecia, writing her a check for $200 dollars in November 2005.
In hindsight, considering the dual life-style the disgraced former Elliot Spitzer led, a Jekyll and Hyde politician turned a John at night, its understandable why he chose Paterson instead of Eve.
She was more erudite than Paterson, having passed her bar exams, graduating from an élite law school and frankly her political acumen far a superior one. Unfortunately why Paterson’s parents did not insist he be taught to read braille was a mistake in what could have been a more upwardly mobile political career for him than languishing in the Senate for as long as he did before, becoming Spitzer’s running mate with the blessing of the African-Americans in the Harlem Clubhouse who always had seen themselves as the leaders of the state-wide black electorate and certainly were not about to allow the upstate blacks let alone a female shift the power further up North.
Certainly to his credit, the years spent in the Senate and later elected Senate Minority Leader provided Governor Paterson with the political acumen Leecia Eve lacked but it was Paterson himself in his characteristic witty personality described his job as lieutenant governor as one that if you telephone Mr. Spitzer and he is in his office, he could go back to sleep.
Before stepping aside at a City Hall event with family at her side , Spitzer and former Mayor David Dinkins, Leecia Eve earlier had a fund-raiser in Buffalo that attracted a diverse group of supporters from a cross-section of the political spectrum all proudly gathering to celebrate the home-town lieutenant governor hopeful. Although the excitement and pride a short-lived one, the towns people never have forgotten and still reminiscent how their hometown girl could have been the governor of New York State today minus the scandalous ruckus that has emerged with Governor David Paterson.
Again, the chickens are coming home to roost, the Spitzer/Paterson ticket was never met to be successful because it was not a balanced one , ignoring the upstate region, tossing aside like a rag doll its political princess Leecia Eve as though she was an insignificant representative from a bunch of bumpkins.
Yet had the so-called Harlem Clubhouse members challenged Elliot Spitzer for selecting David Paterson after they had committed themselves to Leecia Eve, maintaining their loyalty to her insisting she was their candidate, she would have been the running mate for lieutenant governor. And New York state would have had its first African-American female governor in U.S. history, following Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts who on Nov. 7, 2006, became the second elected African-American state governor in United States history.
Still, the bitterness lingers as we think back about her candidacy for New York State today its reputation marred in gubernatorial scandals with two governors in less than four years as an investigation unfolds the uncertainty if another resignation is imminent with budget woes toppling $1.4 billion dollars in the month of March alone and a projected 10 billion deficit. It’s soothing to know we almost had it right if only Leecia Eve had been the lieutenant governor. She’s an analgesic New Yorkers could use now as it moves forward to resolve the chaos and crisis of the moment.
In a NY Daily News article, January 27, 2006, ”Spitzer wrong to toss Eve Gov hopeful misses chance to choose real reform candidate for lieutenant governor,” Errol Louis wrote, “a party that chases away star talent like Eve has its priorities hopelessly muddled and a back turned against its own future.” He called Paterson a wrong choice because he was an “Albany insider who has often ended up on the wrong side of ethical questions. He named a few serious ethical problems Paterson had back then but no one listened it seemed.
When Gov. Paterson allegedly had thought of appointing someone from upstate New York to fill in the vacant U.S. Senate seat Hillary Clinton left when she became Secretary of State for the Obama administration, again the name of Leecia Eve surfaced but once more tossed aside for an unknown Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand whose among the chorus asking Paterson to resign, something Eve would have not done too quickly perhaps waiting for the internal investigation to finish in deference to a black governor who should have appointed her to the vacancy after he surreptitiously wooed supporters to endorse his candidacy for lieutenant governor when she had already garnered the endorsement.
As Errol Louis wrote, “Leecia Eve’s possible withdrawal from the race for lieutenant governor provides a miniprimer on much of what’s wrong with politics in general and the state of the Democratic Party in particular.
Maria Rosa is a veteran journalist, educator and childrens advocate “I started writing for the Buffalo Puerto Rican Press back in 1978 in the Latin Journal (1973-1979) Alberto O. Cappas published from a storefront apartment in the Puerto Rican barrio on the lower West Side of town. I have written for many alternative newspapers–the Latin Journal, the Hispano News and the Buffalo Challenger.”