- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Former New York Gov. George Pataki dropped out of the 2016 Republican presidential race Tuesday evening, continuing the winnowing of the huge GOP field and eliminating another long shot hopeful from the party’s centrist establishment wing.

He made the announcement on NBC affiliates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina at 9 p.m. EST, using the last of the free airtime he had received from the network to settle an “equal time” dispute over front-runner Donald Trump having hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

“While tonight is the end of my journey for the White House as I suspend my campaign for president, I am confident we can elect the right person,” he said. “If we’re truly going to make America great again, we need to elect a president who will do three things: confront and defeat radical Islam, shrink the size and power of Washington and unite us again in our belief in this great country.”

Communications Director David Catalfamo told CNN that as late as Tuesday morning, the Pataki campaign had been planning to air campaign ads in those two-minute segments.

“We filmed two spots,” he said. But “ultimately the campaign decided we didn’t have the resources to continue effectively.”

Although he had a credible resume as the successful governor for more than a decade of one of the nation’s largest states, Mr. Pataki never managed to break into the top tier of candidates, repeatedly relegated to the “undercard” in candidate debates and barely registering in polls among Republican primary voters.

A Boston Globe reporter first revealed via Twitter Tuesday afternoon that “@Governor Pataki is calling his NH supporters this afternoon telling him he will drop his bid for president.”

NBC News reported that Ben Gamache, another member of the steering committee, said Mr. Pataki called him to let him know he’d be dropping out, and Bruce Breton, a selectman in Windham, New Hampshire, and a Pataki supporter, announced via Twitter: “I think I am a free agent now.”

New Hampshire State Sen. Nancy Stiles, a steering committee member for Mr. Pataki’s political action committee, would tell The Washington Times only that she received a phone call from the former governor Tuesday and that he wished her a happy new year.

Mr. Pataki, a onetime mayor of Peekskill, entered the race hoping to resurrect a political career in which he was best known for winning three gubernatorial races in a heavily Democratic state and presiding over New York during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But the 70-year-old never caught fire on the stump, and has been overshadowed by some of the party’s fresh faces, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and political newcomers such as businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Mr. Pataki, who served as governor of New York from 1995 to 2006, has missed the chance to take part in five prime-time GOP debates because of poor polling, which has added to the lingering belief that his bid was never going nowhere.

Mr. Pataki’s withdrawal continued a trend in which governors and ex-governors, long considered to have an edge in presidential contests, have fallen by the wayside in the Republican primary race, as outsiders and members of Congress top the polls. 

More than a month before the first caucuses and primaries, the withdrawals include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, as well as former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Govs. Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee remain in the race, but are well down in the polls.


• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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