He didn’t want to talk about it on the record, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying win over Republicans and made his pitch behind closed doors at The Harvard Club in Manhattan Thursday. What’s that Japanese word that means not only disaster, but also opportunity??? Might be appropriate here ( assuming any of us spoke Japanese ). Republicans appear fractious at the moment, and that gives the governor an in.

But sources say this was not an isolated incident. For more than a year the governor has been trying to avoid a serious challenge from the GOP in his re-election bid. Cuomo has personally been reaching out to prominent GOP donors and potential Republican candidate Rob Astorino to discourage them from mounting a challenge. He has even asked Republican state Chairman Ed Cox for a sit-down, and has gone so far as to promise Republicans to help keep the Senate under Republican control.

He does not want the Westchester County executive in the race, and has made no secret of this to the GOP privately.

Since he is a sitting governor, Cuomo has found some receptivity to his overtures. Meaning they will listen. But when it comes time to actually acquiesce, the Republicans must decline. Even with a promise to help maintain control of the Senate, Republicans fear their seats in the upper house will be in more jeopardy if they don’t have someone strong at the top of the ticket.

Needless to say, sources say the governor doesn’t like this answer. One even described him as having a “glass jaw.”

Yesterday, Cox told me on the record that Cuomo and his people were being “bullies” in trying to get Republicans and local electeds to stand down and back him for re-election. Privately, others say Cuomo holds events around the state so he can sprinkle goodies on the locals and expects Republican leaders to attend.

A source close to the governor calls all of this “completely untrue.”

But the bottom line is this: Cuomo has plenty of money – more than $33 million in the war chest. But he doesn’t necessarily want to spend it, and would prefer to avoid a competitive race, according to those familiar with his efforts to woo Republicans. As one insider put it,

“He is trying to intimidate people in New York State. Similar to the guy across the Hudson.”