Paterson sworn in as N.Y. Governor

Chief Judge Judith Kaye administers the oath of office to Gov. David Paterson.
Chief Judge Judith Kaye administers the oath of office to Gov. David Paterson.

(CBS/AP) -- David Paterson has become New York's first black governor.

The Harlem Democrat took the oath of office just after 1 p.m. Monday in a ceremony at the state Capitol in Albany. Lawmakers in attendance cheered and chanted his name as he prepared to give his inaugural address.

Paterson rose from lieutenant governor to the chief executive's office following Eliot Spitzer's stunning resignation amid a prostitution scandal. Spitzer's departure from office became official at noon.

Spitzer's term was cut short after allegations surfaced that he hired a call girl from a high-priced escort service. He resigned last week, a stunning fall from power for the crusader who vowed to rid the state Capitol of corruption.

Paterson has gone from relative obscurity to being sworn in as the state's chief executive, reports CBS News' Chris Wragge. He is already exercising some of his new responsibilities - on Saturday he spoke on scene at the crane collapse.

Sunday night, he appeared at a party thrown in his honor in Albany, reports WCBS-TV in New York. After celebrating with black elected officials, Paterson was all smiles on the eve of his swearing in.

"I feel good," Paterson told WCBS. "It's St. Patrick's Day."

At his swearing-in as the state's 55th governor, Paterson plans to use his inaugural speech to project confidence and optimism, while relating his own personal struggles to New York's ability to overcome challenges, an aide said.

Paterson will become the state's first black governor - and would be 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. Mr. 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."

After acknowledging what a difficult week it has been for the state, Paterson plans to talk about the need for Republicans and his fellow Democrats to work together to address pressing issues, including the state budget.

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.

Posted by KO

The Associated Press and CBS News contributed to this report.