Hungarian American George Pataki the three-term governor who led the state of New York through the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on Tuesday quit the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He lagged a large field that is dominated by one of his former constituents, scandal-prone billionaire property developer Donald Trump.
“While tonight is the end of my journey for the White House as I suspend my campaign for president, I’m confident we can elect the right person—someone who can bring us together,” the 70-year-old former governor said in his campaign valedictory: a video announcement made on YouTube and in a prime-time TV advertisement in the three early voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
Mr. Pataki, who made his announcement days before books closed on the campaign fundraising quarter, never gained traction in the polls, with surveys steadily measuring his popularity at below 1 per cent among the Republican electorate since he launched his presidential bid in late May.
Mr. Pataki, who served as the governor of the Democrat-dominated state of New York between 1995 and 2007, was the first-ever US politician partly with a Hungarian family background ever to run for President of the United States. He belongs to the more moderate wing of the Republican Party, which is seeing several strongly conservative politicians competing to become the party’s ultimate candidate.
Mr. Pataki, who also has an Irish and an Italian line of ancestry, graduated from Yale University in 1967 and became a doctor of law after completing Columbia University’s law school in 1970. His political career began in 1981, when he became mayor of his hometown of Peerskill, New York; later, he became a member of the state’s assembly and senate before beginning his first term as governor in 1995.
Mr. Pataki’s grandfather János Pataki emigrated from the Hungarian village of Aranyosapáti to the United States in 1908; his paternal grandmother was also Hungarian-born. The politician, who speaks some Hungarian himself, was rumoured to stand for President previously in 2000 and 2008.
photo: Robyn Beck/AFP