According to a report by the New York Post’s Fred Dicker, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo has become “crazed with anger” and increasingly abusive to his executive staff as he worries about the potential damage to his high popularity that may be revealed in the imminent first round of public polling since the Moreland Commission scandal broke open.
A poll meant to ascertain the scandal’s impact will be released this week by the Marist Institute of Public Opinion and it could dramatically reshape Cuomo’s race against Republican Rob Astorino and his Democratic primary battle with Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham law professor.
Administration insiders, who have knowledge of private polling data that has already been collected by Cuomo’s campaign, say the public poll is likely to indicate that the governor’s approval rating is plummeting. “The bad news is starting to stick. This is very serious,’’ a senior Cuomo administration figure commented to The Post. A second source close to the newly embattled Cuomo added, “We know the governor is damaged. The only question is how badly.’’
Cuomo is apprehensive that a drop in the polls will generate an influx of funds and other assistance to Astorino’s cash-starved campaign and give momentum to Teachout’s challenge.
Sources described Cuomo, who has “lawyered up’’ in the wake of an ongoing criminal investigation by Southern District US Attorney Preet Bharara into the governor’s possible interference with the corruption-seeking panel’s activities, as angry at his staff and upset with himself — especially over last week’s mishandling of his response to the scandal.
“Andrew tried to be too cute by half. He was going to orchestrate a response to the scandal to show there’s really no scandal there, but instead, he may have been involved in a federal crime,’’ explained a longtime Cuomo associate, referring to Bharara’s warning to Cuomo last week that he may have improperly interfered with federal witnesses. “Now he’s crazed with anger, and he’s taking it out on a lot of people around him.’’ Cuomo’s irritation was only further exacerbated when Teachout’s name was placed over his on the primary ballot late last week by the state Board of Elections.
The governor ramped up his campaign advertisements in recent days as an effort to boost his popularity by trying to pin the “corrupt’’ label on Astorino — a difficult argument since Cuomo is beginning to appear enmeshed in a major ethics scandal of his own. Cuomo is also engaged in a politically risky effort to have Teachout removed from the ballot, arguing that she does not meet the state’s five-year residency requirement. In the event that Cuomo loses to Teachout in court, she has the potential to gain popularity.
In a related matter, one of the state’s most influential Democratic consultants has pointed out how few Democrats have publicly sided with Cuomo over the scandal — in contrast with the many Republicans who came out to defend the governor of New Jersey in the face of an ethics investigation. “When [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie first had ‘Bridgegate,’ a lot of national Republicans defended him, Mitt Romney chief among them,” the consultant noted. “But Democrats don’t want to touch this with a 10-foot pole and that’s because the chickens are coming home to roost for Cuomo. He never lifted a finger for the Democratic Party, including President Obama, so no one feels the need to defend him one iota.’’