New York Post, Inside Albany
Fredric U. Dicker
Last updated: 2:35 am, August 3, 2009. Posted: 2:33 am, August 3, 2009
AWORSENING state budget outlook has put Gov. Paterson "between a rock and a hard place" in his bid to survive an all-but-certain challenge from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo next year, senior legislative Democrats told The Post.
Paterson, who last week -- just hours after being photographed partying at a Manhattan nightclub -- revealed the state has a $2.1 billion current-year budget deficit, plans to ask the Legislature to convene next month to approve another round of belt-tightening measures.
"Fat chance," was the blunt assessment of a senior Senate Democrat of the governor's chances of success. "It's going to be impossible for Paterson to get an agreement among all 32 [Senate] Democrats to cut spending, since you can't get 32 of them to agree on anything, including who their leader is," the Senate insider continued.
Making matters worse for Paterson is the barely hidden contempt that several members of the Senate's new collective Democratic leadership have for the governor.
"They hate him," said a source close to several of the leaders.
If Paterson, at record low approval numbers in the polls, can't get lawmakers to agree to spending cuts, he'll be forced to furlough or layoff state workers, temporarily shut down state offices, and delay contract payments that could leave thousands of nonstate workers with payless paydays. [bold emphasis added by WheresThePaper.org]
"The governor is going to be between a rock and a hard place very soon, just as he has to decide if he's going to run for election," said one of the state's best-known Democratic officials.
"If he fails to get the Legislature to cut spending, he'll look even weaker than he already looks, and if he cuts spending on his own, the unions will hate him even more than they do now," the official continued.
Cuomo, by stark contrast, is at the peak of his popularity.
Here's how one of the state's best-known labor leaders assessed the situation: "Paterson was in the news because he was at a nightclub with two women on his arms, and Cuomo was in the news locally and nationally because of his work on reforming corporate excess. There's no contest. It's over."
Policy-oriented -- as opposed to politically oriented -- Democratic Senate staffers say they're at a loss to know whom to report to among the collective leadership that emerged last month out of the Republican coup attempt.
"One day, Malcolm Smith seems to be in charge; the next day, it's John Sampson; and then another day, it's Pedro Espada or Carl Kruger or Eric Adams or Jeff Klein," said one staffer with two decades of experience.
Copyright 2009 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.