Pataki says no to reelection, opening door to White House bid

New York Gov. George Pataki announced yesterday that he would not run for reelection next year, leaving him free to pursue a presidential bid in 2008. Pataki’s decision also prompted new speculation about the wide-open GOP field to challenge Eliot Spitzer, New York’s attorney general and the Democratic gubernatorial front-runner.

“Come 2007, I will follow a new path, find new challenges, knowing that I am leaving the state we love in the best possible hands – yours,” Pataki said at a press conference in Albany’s Capitol.

Pataki remained conspicuously unwilling to rule out a run for the White House, and the Associated Press reported that the governor set up a meeting with high-level donors in New York City hours after his announcement. Spitzer recently had opened up a double-digit lead over Pataki in the polls, despite the governor’s widespread popularity since Sept. 11, 2001.

Thomas Golisano, a three-time gubernatorial loser on the Independence Party ticket, and New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels are contending for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Both New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his predecessor Rudolph Giuliani have said they do not plan to seek Pataki’s seat.

Elana Schor