Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Richard Ravitch ’58LLB

Richard Ravitch ’58LLB ran for public office only once, two decades ago, and came in third. Yet the 76-year-old lawyer/real estate developer/New York City powerbroker stands on the verge of becoming governor of the nation’s third most populous state—if only for a few months.

When New York State’s then-governor, Eliot Spitzer, resigned amid a sex scandal in 2008, he was succeeded by his lieutenant governor, David Paterson. Paterson in turn appointed Ravitch as lieutenant governor, in a controversial move that was challenged all the way to the state’s highest court. Now Paterson is embroiled in his own scandals over alleged gift-taking, perjury, and intervention on behalf of an aide accused of domestic assault. If Paterson steps down, that would put Ravitch—whom the New York Times recently called “the only adult left in Albany”—in charge of the state’s notoriously dysfunctional government.

Ravitch—who, among other accomplishments, bailed out New York City’s subway system in the 1980s—“has practically perfected the role of Mr. Fix-It,” the Times says. Even Paterson supporters are calling on the governor to hand over budget negotiations to Ravitch, who is not beholden to politicos (nor interested in running for governor in November) and is therefore seen as able to break the Albany gridlock.

But will Paterson step down? That’s still up in the air. “Asked by reporters if he would still be governor on Friday, he said he would,” the Times reports today. “Asked if he would still be governor next week, he did not respond.”

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