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Queens pols hail Paterson’s rise

"Overall, I think he's going to be great for New York and for Queens," said U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), head of Queens's Democratic Party."Without a doubt, there's no question that David first and foremost was a legislator in Albany," Crowley said. "I would think that any number of people in the Senate and Assembly got to know him there. I think that's going to bode well. Instead of trying to establish a personal relationship, they're already going to have that with the governor."State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) agreed."He's a well-known figure in the state Legislature," he said of Paterson, who took the oath of office Monday following Spitzer's resignation. "He's well regarded and, given the circumstances in which he became governor, there's a huge feeling on both sides of the aisle that we want him to succeed. We've been distracted for a couple of weeks, so my feeling is that we're all in the same boat and we'll be rowing in the same direction."Paterson, who became the state's first black governor and the third in the country since Reconstruction, received a two-minute standing ovation during his swearing-in ceremony in the state Assembly chamber.In a speech that showed Paterson's sense of humor Ð he introduced state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli as "the moderately popular comptroller" and said he forgave state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for squirting him with a water gun three years ago Ð the new governor referred only obliquely to Spitzer's downfall, but said it was time to continue the state's business."In spite of the obstacles, regardless of the circumstances, we move forward," Paterson said. "Today is Monday. There is work to be done."The new governor also received praise from state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale), whose seat was aggressively targeted by Spitzer in his bid to gain Democratic control of the Senate."David is a wonderful person," Maltese said at a meeting of the Juniper Park Civic Association. "Spitzer was obviously off his rocker, but David Paterson is the opposite. He's very bright and a good person. I'm very optimistic and hopeful. I think he will be a welcome change."State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), who succeeded Paterson as state Senate minority leader, called him a personal friend and said the new governor's style contrasts with Spitzer's aggressive demeanor."Gov. Paterson has worked within the Legislature and he knows how to move things through the Legislature by having cooperation with the members," Smith said. "If you don't have that experience, you don't have that knowledge. He's more of a congenial negotiator and he looks for the middle. I am very confident he will be a great governor."Smith also said Paterson has a keen understanding of issues affecting Queens, such as the proliferation of subprime loans and predatory lending."He understands the challenge we have with the subprime crisis," Smith said. "He has the desire for job creation."With Albany still in disbelief over Spitzer's involvement with a high-priced prostitution ring, Paterson held a news conference the day after he was sworn in to admit he had extramarital affairs."This is just one of the issues I want to get straight so New Yorkers know who their governor is," said Paterson, who said one of the affairs was with "someone on the state payroll" before he was state Senate minority leader.He said the woman was not someone he managed or supervised and that she worked under a different state agency than him.Paterson's wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, had an affair before her husband did, he said, and the new governor said he was "jealous."Paterson said he did not address the affairs publicly in the past because he considered them private matters. He said he discussed them with reporters Tuesday after rumors swirled."I think it was just a sense of me wanting to clear my conscience," he said.The TimesLedger staff contributed to this story.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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