Gov. David Paterson hunkered down in the executive mansion Tuesday, as a growing scandal sparked fear among lawmakers that state business could grind to a halt while he’s under siege.

“What’s at stake in this mess is the ability of the government to function for the people who elected it,” said Assemb. Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester).

When Paterson finally emerged, he said he didn’t feel pressure to resign. He has called a meeting of senior staff Wednesday.

Most elected officials did not call on Paterson to quit, citing a probe by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is looking into allegations that Paterson, state employees and his state police detail contacted a woman seeking an order of protection against top aide David Johnson.

State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt, who has acknowledged that troopers visited the woman before she was set to appear in court, announced last night he will retire today.

Many warned, however, that closing the state’s $9 billion budget gap by April 1 is threatened by the scandal.

“The temperature in the capital is very hot right now,” said Assemb. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn).

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The state chapter of the National Organization for Women called on the governor to resign following the latest reports, which allege Paterson directed state employees to urge Johnson’s accuser to say publicly that the incident was nonviolent. This was after she reportedly told police that Johnson choked her. The woman, Sherr-una Booker, never filed charges.

Calls to the governor’s office were not returned. Paterson canceled public appearances Tuesday. He met with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate leader John Sampson and state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs. Silver and Jacobs said Paterson should not quit; Sampson declined to comment.

Meanwhile, calls intensified for Lt Gov. Richard Ravitch to take over the budget talks. “No one thinks [Paterson] is capable of delivering a budget,” said a source close to the Senate leadership. “Everyone’s secret hope is that he [resigns].”

Still, if Cuomo’s probe finds criminal wrongdoing, Paterson could use his resignation as a bargaining chip.

“I’m sure there are a lot of discussions going on to try to minimize damage to him, to the Democratic Party and to the budget process,” said Helen Desfosses, a political science professor at SUNY Albany.

Photo: Gov. David Paterson talks to reporters as he leaves the Capitol in Albany Tuesday.   (AP)