ALBANY, N.Y. — It was upheaval in state government that brought Richard Ravitch into the lieutenant governor position last summer.
While he never held public office before that, Ravitch is no stranger to the political process.
Making the announcement last summer, Governor David Patterson said, “I am here today to announce the appointment of Richard Ravitch as our new lieutenant governor.”
It was on Jul. 9, 2009, following four weeks of a contentious senate coup, Governor Paterson named his second in command.
At the time, it was to have someone in place should something happen to the governor while the senate leadership was up in the air.
Perhaps only Richard Ravitch had some foresight of what the future may hold for him.
“Governor I have to thank you for the honor. Whether I thank you for the fun of the next 18 months, I will defer,” he quipped.
The appointment was a controversial one since the state constitution does not provide a system to replace a lieutenant governor. And through a series of lawsuits and legal challenges, the New York Court of Appeals finally upheld the decision last September.
The 76-year old attorney has a history of stepping into tough situations.
He helped with the New York City fiscal crisis in the mid-seventies and served as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from 1979 to 1983.
During the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, Ravitch was one of the chief negotiators for baseball owners.
He has never been elected to office, though he did unsuccessfully seek the democratic nomination for New York City Mayor in 1989.
When taking over the lieutenant governor post, Ravtich said he will not run for governor.
His only mission at the time was to help Paterson and the state through this tough fiscal crisis, something he reiterated to the state's mayors in late February when he told them more tough choices were still ahead.
“All of these things, including property tax relief, will have to wait until we restore structural balance to our fiscal situation and in my opinion,” he told the mayors. “That is going to require some very sad, difficult and unpleasant choices.”