ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Disgraced Gov. Eliot Spitzer's resignation became official Monday, and Lt. Gov. David Paterson took the oath of office to become New York’s first black governor.
Spitzer's term, cut short after allegations surfaced that he hired a call girl from a high-priced escort service, officially ended at noon. He resigned last week, a stunning fall from power for the crusader who vowed to rid the state Capitol of corruption.
At his swearing-in as the state's 55th governor, Paterson projected confidence and optimism.
Paterson also became the nation’s first legally blind chief executive to serve more than a few days.
President Bush gave Paterson a congratulatory call Monday morning.
"He said that his friends in New York had told him that while it's a big job, that you can handle it," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. Bush said he "knows that Lt. Gov. Paterson will be able to do a great job, and that he looks forward to meeting him soon."
Paterson spent much of last week meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders in preparation for his unexpected transition.
The new governor was Spitzer's lieutenant for just 14 months. Paterson has been a Democratic state senator since 1985, representing parts of Harlem and Manhattan's Upper West Side.
He graduated from Columbia University and Hofstra School of Law.
His father, Basil, a former state senator representing Harlem and later New York's first black secretary of state, was part of a political fraternity that included fellow Democrats U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins – the city's first black mayor – and former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton.
"It's very daunting" Paterson said Friday. "I definitely feel anxiety … but in the end, we have a job to do. And we're here to do that job."
Federal prosecutors must still decide whether to pursue charges against Spitzer. The married father of three teenage girls was accused of spending tens of thousands of dollars on prostitutes – including a call girl known as "Kristen" in Washington the night before Valentine's Day.