WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former New York Gov.George Pataki has been described as the longest of long shots in a crowded field of 16 Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for president.
Since joining the race May 28, Pataki has attracted sparse political support, even from his base in Upstate New York, prompting some to ask: Why is this man running for president?
In a National Journal cover story this week, the magazine asks, “With no voter attention, no key issue he wishes to advance, no obvious interest in any other bureaucratic position, and no visible egomania, what, then, is driving Pataki to embark on the surreal experience of running for president?”
Reporter T.A. Frank spent time with Pataki on the campaign trail in New Hampshire looking for answers in a “psychological investigation” of a candidate who “is running for reasons unknown.” Frank writes:
Many candidates with no chance of victory run for president because of conviction. Like, say, Ron Paul in 2012 or Bernie Sanders today, they have a set of issues they passionately want to advance.This does not, as far as I can tell, apply to George Pataki. As Jonah Goldberg put it in a column last month, Pataki seems to be “pretending to have core convictions just so he can run.” Even the Pataki website motto—”People over politics”—suggests a desire to avoid serious thought. And such an impression is nothing new. As Pataki’s third term as governor of New York was winding down in 2005 and 2006, The New York Sun wrote that “one looks in vain to discern any principle or idea that Mr. Pataki stands for consistently.” Columnist Deroy Murdoch wrote in National Review that Pataki was “a politician of breathtaking mediocrity” whose “lack of competence, charisma, and character composes a sickening trifecta.” Kindest was The New York Times, which complained that under Pataki “reform was a talking point, not a doing point,” while nonetheless conceding that, overall, “New Yorkers are well aware that it is possible to do worse.”
Of course, Pataki has been a long-shot candidate in the past: He’s quick to remind people that nobody gave him a chance when, as the former mayor of Peekskill, he pulled off a stunning upset of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994.
“I’ll tell ya,” Pataki told CNN after announcing his presidential bid. “This reminds me so much of when I ran for governor. No one had heard of me. I have always started at the bottom. I think it is the best way to do it. You appreciate something more when you earn it.”
Pataki has consistently ranked near the bottom of the pack in Republican presidential polls this year. A CNN/ORC poll Sunday showed Pataki did not even register a full percentage point.
Pataki is among 10 governors and former governors seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016. He ranks near the middle of the pack when comparing the records of all 10 governors based on 11 economic indicators, according to Bloomberg News.
Compared to the other governors, Pataki rates highest for the point change in New York’s poverty rate while in office (#2 out of the 10 governors), according toBloomberg’s interactive graphic.