Cuomo Won't Challenge NY Governor Paterson

I would have bet the house against this:

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said despite recent polls showing him far ahead of Governor David Paterson in a gubernatorial primary, he wants to stay on as the state’s chief legal officer.

“I hope the people think that I’ve been delivering for them as attorney general,” he said Tuesday night at Schenectady County Community College. “I’ve been trying my best and my only plan is to run for re-election as attorney general…”

He did not answer directly a question as to whether he is ruling out a run for governor.

“I believe Governor David Paterson is going to run for re-election as governor,” Cuomo said. “I believe he’s going to be re-elected as governor.”

The most recent poll of the New York Governor’s race shows that David Paterson is toast if he runs for re-election next year. While Cuomo has been considered his most probable and most formidable primary opponent, other Democrats are rumored to be considering challenges. If one of them takes on Paterson and wins, Cuomo will find himself leapfrogged again, as he arguably was when Paterson became Governor.

So what gives?

Note that Cuomo refuses specifically to rule out a challenge. Perhaps he’s biding his time and playing the good soldier. When a primary challenge to Paterson materializes, Cuomo can argue that circumstances have changed and he now has to throw his hat in the ring. He could challenge a weakened Paterson – or perhaps even step in after Paterson determines that he can’t be re-elected. Playing the ‘good soldier’ now could help Cuomo down the road.

Of course, if he sticks with his decision not to run, the path may have gotten smoother for a Republican challenger.