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George Pataki's Iowa Mojo

Summer's official start is just around the corner, but New Yorkers are ice cold when it comes to Gov. George Pataki, who leaves office at the end of 2006 after three terms in Albany. Faltering poll numbers for the governor make clear that voters in the Empire State are ready for change.

New York Gov. George Pataki
New York Gov. George Pataki, left, shares a laugh with former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley, center, and Patty Fabrizio of the Myrtle Beach Republican Women. Pataki was in the Palmetto State in early June. (The Sun-News via AP)

But over in America's heartland, Hawkeye State Republicans are warming up to this unlikely suitor.
New York's governor makes his seventh trip to Iowa tomorrow and Saturday -- raising cash for the Republican Party of Iowa, which holds its convention this weekend, and stopping by receptions for Rep. Jim Nussle's gubernatorial campaign and Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Tonight he's raising money in New York City for Iowa state Sen. Jeff Lamberti, who is running against 3rd District Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) in the fall. Pataki is scheduled to do a fundraiser for Nussle on July 26 in New York.

Pataki currently belongs in the second (or even third) tier of GOP presidential hopefuls, but his aggressiveness and attentiveness to Iowa shows that he could surprise some people come January 2008.

Earlier this week Pataki announced who will comprise the Iowa leadership team of his 21st Century Freedom PAC. The team includes state Sen. Stewart Iverson, Iowans for Tax Relief's Ed Failor Jr. and Dianne Crookham-Johnson, an influential state Republican Party activist. Iverson will be the PAC's chairman, Crookham-Johnson its executive director and Failor will serve as a senior adviser. When it comes to assembling presidential campaigns in Iowa, Failor and Johnson are considered among the 50 most-coveted Republican activists in the state.

Iverson said he met Pataki a few years ago and their relationship has strengthened as he has found out more about the governor's policies in New York. Policy aside, Iverson said Pataki excels at the retail politics that make Iowa and its presidential caucuses unique. "He works a room as good or better than anyone I have ever seen," Iverson said of Pataki.

In conversations with a variety of Iowa politicos -- the vast majority of whom are uncommitted when it comes to 2008 -- Pataki's name regularly came up as the most surprising candidate. He draws praise for his accessibility, especially when compared to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose entourage during a recent visit to the Hawkeye State turned off some people -- including influential Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen. (Yepsen, by contrast, had kind words for Pataki during an Iowa visit by the New York governor last fall.)

Alicia Preston, a spokeswoman for Pataki's PAC, carefully danced around the idea that the inordinate amount of attention Pataki is paying to Iowa has anything to do with his presidential ambitions. "The organization of the leadership team [is part of a] nationwide effort to help Republicans to get elected in 2006," she said. "At the end of the day, Governor Pataki is able to unite people behind the ideals that really represent Republican values."

That sounds dangerously close to a campaign slogan to us.

Of course, Pataki faces major hurdles in Iowa and elsewhere. As mentioned above, he is leaving office with less-than-stellar poll numbers and his successor is almost certain to be a Democrat -- not exactly the ideal springboard for a national campaign. Pataki also favors abortion rights, a major strike against him with the social conservatives who traditionally play an outsized role in the Iowa caucuses.

Still, The Fix believes that hard work in politics often pays off. And Pataki is working Iowa as hard as anyone at the moment.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 15, 2006; 4:31 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008 , Republican Party  
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Comments

Most New Yorkers believe that Pataki has been an awful governor. I am baffled by the logic that propels him to consider running as I think he has a snowball's chance in hell. The only thing that seems remotely possible is that he get picked as VP or perhaps for some cabinet position. I think the reality of Pataki would drag down any Republican presidential candidate... so I hope they pick him.

Posted by: Willy wonka | June 20, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Most New Yorkers believe that Pataki has been an awful governor. I am baffled by the logic that propels him to consider running as I think he has a snowball's chance in hell. The only thing that seems remotely possible is that he get picked as VP or perhaps for some cabinet position. I think the reality of Pataki would drag down any Republican presidential candidate... so I hope they pick him.

Posted by: K | June 20, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The top-tier Republicans for 2008 are Secretary of State Condi Rice, Rudy Guiliani and Senator John McCain. For the past year and 6 months, these names have been at the top of all national polls. Each has 20% of the political pie, which leaves 40% to be yanked back and forth among 9 or more members of the Senate or other political offices. Even Newt, a man out of office, has a strong support in various state polls.

CNN mentioned the group last week who are seeking to draft Condi for 2008:
www.4condi.com

From Texas conventions, to California conventions and at various political events last year and this year, Americans For Dr. Rice has purchased thousands of dollars worth of radio ads and TV ads. It is all part of the FEC report filed from the public airwaves.

Andrea Mitchell appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews to report about Condi's speech at the Southern Baptist Convention in North Carolina. She is an international superstar, with 60% favorable ratings in the recent Rasmussen poll.

Building a team to support Condi is an ongoing march toward putting her on the 2008 ballot. If she decides to run in September 2007, it is still going to give her time to offically set up an office, and send out campaign fundraising letters. Her high name ID, high favorables, and high worldwide platform makes her one of the most powerful names for 2008.

I am a volunteer, not a paid staffer. My money is on Condi, and only Condi. I would not give a nickel for any other Republican in the 2008 race, but I would vote for him as a better choice than any Democrat. My view is not unusual, since many of Howard Dean's votes were forced to go to Kerry in November 2004. They raised $50 million for Dean and failed to build a winning team for him in Iowa or New Hampshire.

Posted by: Tina | June 19, 2006 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Two New Yorkers vying for the GOP nomination. That seems to show the depth problems that the GOP will have in coming up with an 08 candidate.
Three words for anyone considering Pataki as a serious contender. Syracuse, Buffalo and Newburgh. Pataki's dismal record in economic development is that reason that every upstater has a relative in the Carolinas.

Robert Chapman
Lansing, New York

Posted by: robert chapman | June 16, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

What about Rhode Island ? Chris

New June poll for RI has DEM and REP tied for a second month in a row of polling.
( Republican Governor is no longer safe in Rhode Island - Also expect the close senate race to help the DEM in the Governor's Race)

In Rhode Island, Carcieri in Tight Race
Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) continues to struggle in his bid for reelection against challenger Charles Fogarty (D). According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, Fogarty currently holds a statistically insignificant lead over Carcieri, 41% to 40%. These numbers mirror May's poll, which also showed Fogarty with a one-point lead.

Posted by: Wells | June 16, 2006 10:39 AM | Report abuse

David Yepsen, the "influential" Des Moines Register columnist mentioned, enjoys attention more than most politicians. His level of interest in any candidate is proportional to the defference the candidate pays him. You will note his ability to find positives in any candidate who pays him homage. The Iverson-Failor team has a follwing only among those who are opposed in general to taxes of any kind for any purpose.The funds available to them have been used to extract a pledge not to vote for tax increases from a good number of Iowa legislative canddiates over the past few years. The ploitical pot is only beginning to simmer in Iowa.

Posted by: Bob Osterhaus | June 16, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

David Yepsen, the "influential" Des Moines Register columnist mentioned, enjoys attention more than most politicians. His level of interest in any candidate is proportional to the defference the candidate pays him. You will note his ability to find positives in any candidate who pays him homage. The Iverson-Failor team has a follwing only among those who are opposed in general to taxes of any kind for any purpose. The ploitical pot is only beginning to simmer in Iowa.

Posted by: bobo | June 16, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

To respectfully counter what Staley said

Thats similar to what they said about John Kerry when he was running 4th in the Iowa Caucuses and 4th in the New Hampshire primaries... he came out front after a concerted effort to portray Howard Dean as way too liberal by people in his own party.

And as a resident New Yorker, I can tell you that PAtaki's unpopularity is attributed more to his percieved lack of accomplishments in the last 4 yrs, than him actually doing something wrong. He was a brilliant governor for the first 8 yrs (which is why he was elected 3 times).
Also, having whats ranked as the number one most dysfunctional state legislature in the country doesnt help him get achievements now does it?

Bottom line, because he is such a moderate, he prob wont get the nomination, but dont be surprised if he gets the VP nod to balance out the ticket. Being governor of the 3rd largest state for 12 yrs is a good enough qualification

Posted by: Dorian | June 16, 2006 2:54 AM | Report abuse

The only thing that Pataki has going for him in the GOP primary season is that he is an empty suit. Republicans love empty suits. Otherwise his positions on abortion, gay rights and the environment make trying to win that party's nomination analagous to squeezing a square peg in a round hole.

http://www.intrepidliberaljournal.blogspot.com

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | June 16, 2006 2:15 AM | Report abuse

I second (or is it fifth) those above me who say that Pataki has no chance. Moderate Republicans may be able to get nominated on TV shows, but in real life, Republicans won't nominate a pro-choice politician. They'd lose half their base.

Posted by: Jeff | June 15, 2006 9:51 PM | Report abuse

As David Letterman says; "Oh, that wacky Pataki!"

Posted by: Nor'Easter | June 15, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

It's difficult to imagine that George Pa-tacky has even the tiniest iota of a scintilla of an inkling of a belief that he's a serious contender for the nomination in 2008, given that he's a weak, unpopular moderate from the bluest of states in the modern GOP. I think he might hope to get enough attention to avoid official "dead fishdom" so that he can get a cabinet position in a potential Republican future.

Posted by: Staley | June 15, 2006 6:40 PM | Report abuse

"...favors abortion rights, a major strike against him..."

Chris, you have a gift for understatement. Nothing against Mr. Pataki but in the context of a national bid for the Republican nomination favoring abortion rights means: stick a fork in him, he's done.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | June 15, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

If Pataki could prove that he can win New York and is not pro-choice he is a contender in the GOP.

Posted by: Peter L. | June 15, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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