NEW YORK — Lt. Gov. David Paterson is set to become the state's first African-American governor and the country's fourth on Monday, after the resignation of Democrat Eliot Spitzer.
The 53-year-old Democrat, elected with Spitzer in 2006, will serve a term that runs through the end of 2010.
Paterson hails from a prominent political family in Harlem. His father is Basil Paterson, the first black person to serve as New York's secretary of state and as vice chair of the national Democratic Party.
Widely respected by New York lawmakers of both parties, Paterson is known as a trailblazer.
He was elected to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate in 1985 and became minority leader in 2002, making him the first black legislative leader in New York history. He is also the state's first black lieutenant governor.
The American Foundation for the Blind said Tuesday that he would be the first legally blind governor in U.S. history. Paterson, who lost most of his sight as an infant after suffering an infection, has no vision in his left eye and almost none in his right. He has said he can see shapes and shadows, and he does not use a cane or a seeing-eye dog.
Paterson has championed including alternative energy projects, stem cell research and traditional civil rights issues. He inherits a state in financial turmoil with a $4.4-billion deficit.
Information from Newsday and the Washington Post was used in this report.