Will George Pataki Join the Cast of GOP Candidates?

Will George Pataki Join the Cast of GOP Candidates?

August 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm

George Pataki may be looking to trade in the tired old “former governor” title for a bright and shiny new one: president.

Rumor has it that this Saturday, Pataki will likely announce his presidential campaign at a Republican picnic fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa.

Pataki at the Texas capitol building in April, 2010. Flickr/Christopher Leonard

Pataki, a three-term moderate Republican with a pro-choice and pro-environment record doesn’t exactly fit in with the current crop of GOP candidates (though he did successfully push for the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York in 1995).

“Among a lot of New York Republicans the general sense is that it doesn’t make sense,” a GOP insider told the Daily News.

New Yorkers seem to be open to his candidacy. His approval rating is 51 percent, according to a recent Siena College poll, but only 11 percent of those surveyed favor his run against Obama.

More likely, according to Dr. Alan Chertock, a University of Albany political science professor, he’ll make a good fit for the number two spot, vice president.

Pataki began his political career in 1981 when he was elected Mayor of Peekskill, New York. He later climbed through the ranks of the State Assembly and State Senate to the Governor’s Mansion.

It’s not the first time Pataki has considered seeking higher office. He considered a presidential run in 2006 and was floated as an opponent to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand before dropping out.

Since leaving politics, Pataki has worked at Chadbourne and Parke, a law firm, where he focuses on energy issues. In 2007, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to act as the United States delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. Most recently, he helped to found lobbying organizations No American Debt, which seeks to “advance national dialogue about America’s debt,” and Revere America, which aims to repeal Obama’s healthcare plan.

If successful, Pataki would join a long list of former New York governors who made it to the White House including Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt and FDR. But the list of New York Governors “also-rans” is twice as long: William Seward, Al Smith, Nelson Rockefeller and, perhaps most famously, Thomas Dewey, whose loss to Harry S. Truman was misreported in newspapers across the country as a win in 1948.


Capitol Correspondent Susan Arbetter speaks with a couple of Albany insiders about Gov. George Pataki’s chances on the the national stage.