Quick quiz: which elected office has produced the most U.S. presidents? The answer is … the office of the governor of New York, which has produced four future presidents (Van Buren, Cleveland, and both Roosevelts).
As of this morning, former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) announced his hopes to follow in their footsteps. NBC News’ Carrie Dann reported this morning:
In a four-minute campaign video, Pataki says “it is time to stand up, protect our freedom and take back this country.”“If we are to flourish as a people, we have to fall in love with America again,” he says in the video, which features images of the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 memorial in New York City.
By implication, it sounds as if Pataki is under the impression that Americans stopped loving America. I’m not sure why he would think that.
On paper, Pataki has the appearance of a potential powerhouse. He’s a former mayor, former state lawmaker, and the former three-term governor of one of the nation’s largest states. In a crowded GOP field, few can boast this kind of resume.
But resumes do not win nominations. A new national Quinnipiac poll was released this morning, and it asked Republican voters to choose from a list of 16 GOP candidates. Pataki was one of only two candidates to have support under 1%. Some recent polls haven’t bothered to even include Pataki’s name in the mix at all.
The point, of course, isn’t to laugh at the New York Republican’s misfortunate, but rather, to note that with support this low, Pataki will almost certainly fail to qualify for any of the upcoming debates. He effectively has no national profile within his party, despite having held a major office – one that he vacated nearly a decade ago.
So, if Pataki is the longest of long shots, why is he bothering to run? The answer, which I suspect is true of so many GOP candidates, is that they simply have nothing to lose. If we assume that every prediction about Pataki turns out to be accurate, and he fails spectacularly, the former governor will be no worse off when he leaves the race than he is right now.
On the contrary, no matter how badly his campaign goes, Pataki will have raised his visibility a bit, positioning himself for a possible cabinet post in a Republican administration, or possibly a seat on some corporate boards. For a guy with no current day job, it’s probably hard not to ask, “Why not?”
As every candidate formally enters the race, I write up a piece about what he or she brings to the table, but I’ll confess Pataki’s candidacy makes this challenging – there really is no scenario in which he seriously competes for the nomination.
The New York Republican is the eighth candidate to officially enter the race, following, in alphabetical order, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz , Carly Firorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum.