Last summer, as some advisers warned that he needed to travel around the state to shore up his poll numbers, Mr. Paterson spent long stretches in the Hamptons, relaxing with friends and mingling with wealthy donors and celebrities…

Those interviewed describe the governor as remote from the most seasoned people around him, and increasingly reliant on people whom he feels comfortable with but who lack deep experience in government, including his former driver, David W. Johnson, and his former Albany roommate, Clemmie J. Harris Jr., who retired from the State Police on disability and has been appointed special adviser to the governor.

Some lawmakers say that despite the state’s crippling crisis, Mr. Paterson has seldom engaged with them, beyond denouncing them. And several former state commissioners say he has virtually no involvement with those he has running major agencies, only rarely participating in policy meetings…

“Who cares if he likes to go out and has a couple of drinks; what’s the big deal?” said one friend, the private investigator Richard Dietl, who enjoys a meal with the governor about once a month. “He likes to go out. He likes to see people.”