The governor seems off his A-game, and has since the day after he delivered his state of the state/budget message in late January.
That was the day Bharara's office dropped the bombshell that rocked Albany, charging long-time Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver with corruption. Who would have guessed that the governor would be as rattled as he apparently has been by that?
Cuomo's popularity statewide, a fickle measure to be sure, has dropped by nearly 10 points since December in Quinnipiac University polling. But more revealing is how the public in the latest poll judges the governor on two key policy areas that he's staked out as the most significant of this legislative season.
On ethics reform, more see him as part of the problem rather than of the solution, and by a substantial 54 percent to 38 percent disapprove of how he's handled ethics in state government. Interestingly, the public wants full disclosure of outside income by legislators, which in modified form is part of the two-way deal the governor has crafted.
But the public also strongly favors that the same should apply to income by spouses and significant others, which is not part of the deal. Nor is the creation of a full-time Legislature — Scheiderman's proposal — although the public favors that as well.
What the two-way ethics deal also significantly ignores is equal application to the executive branch. Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos has made a telling point of this, and he's spot-on. ''Our biggest concern is, number one, with the different ethics proposals that have come from the governor ... is what applies to the Legislature should apply to the governor.''
And there is the uncomfortable matter of disclosing the finances of spouses and significant others, which strikes close to home for Cuomo. His partner is Food Network host Sandra Lee. But again, Skelos, who insists that that proviso belongs in any ethics package, is correct when he insists, ''It's not about his friend. She's a wonderful person. This is about equality in terms of disclosure between the executive branch and legislative branch.''
In the Quinnipiac poll, 64 percent say spouses and live-in partners should divulge the source and size of their incomes.
The other key policy area is public education ''reform.'' The public is abandoning him here as well. The poll shows that 55 percent believe the teachers unions can do a better job with education, and only 28 percent say the governor can.
For a governor who has had a remarkable touch in guiding and responding to public opinion and who has closely watched polls throughout his tenure, his growing divergence from the majority public view on these two major policy areas is striking.
Right before the State of the State/budget address, Cuomo was rolling out an announcement a day, all carefully choreographed to promote his image as a pragmatic, middle of the road "Get Things Done" kind of guy.
As LeBrun says, he hasn't been the same since Bharara took out Silver, upsetting the apple cart of power in Albany.
Hard to know if Cuomo's just not used to having to react to someone else (usually Cuomo's handling things so that other people are reacting to him) or if he's really worried that he's next for a police car ride downtown for booking.
Nonetheless the political calculations for Cuomo and his agenda have much changed since he unveiled it officially in January in that set of policy announcements and his State of the State/budget address.
Whereas in January it seemed like a done deal that Cuomo would get almost all of his agenda in the budget, in March the environment exists for him to get very little of it.
But that would mean the Assembly Dems, prodded by the teachers union leadership, would have to stare him down in a battle of wills over his ed reform agenda.
After those same Assembly Dems caved last week on ethics and agreed to a lame ethics reform package that gave Cuomo everything he wanted (i.e., ethics reform that applies to the legislature, not the executive branch), I'm concerned that despite plummeting support in both the Siena and Quinnipiac polls and widespread protest over his education agenda, they're going to cave to him on his education reforms (with teachers union blessing, of course!)
On the other hand, Cuomo has been lashing out at Assembly Dems, claiming Shelly Silver is still running the show, so there's also some indication that budget negotiations on his ed deform agenda aren't going as he'd like.
We need to keep the pressure up - the public protests, the calls to members of the legislature, the social media protests.
We CAN win this battle with Cuomo over education reform - IF we put as much pressure onto the legislature and union leaders to NOT cave to Cuomo as we put on Cuomo TO cave.