Step aside, Jeb Bush. Simmer down Ted Cruz. George Pataki, a former small-town mayor turned New York state governor, has tossed his hat into the crowded field of Republicans seeking their party’s nomination.
He announced his candidacy online and his web site flashes several quotes warning others not to “underestimate” him, which early on seems to be the message from Team Pataki.
"With George Pataki, here's a guy who was mayor of Peekskill and figured out how to become governor of New York," says John McLaughlin, a Rockland County-based GOP consultant. McLaughlin said. "So I wouldn't underestimate him if he enters the presidential race."
The Pataki web site also flashes images of the 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, which his administration played a big role in moving along.
“It is time to stand up, protect our freedom and take back this government," Pataki says in his online announcement.
Pataki has mulled runs for the U.S. Senate and the White House ever since finishing his third term as governor in 2006.
He has his work cut out for him, political reporters have noted. A Newsday piece from New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state quote one voter who seemed to sum up the conventional wisdom.
"I just haven't heard his name in a long time," said Deanna Tinios, 53, of Hampton, N.H., a loyal Republican primary voter. "You hear Jeb Bush and, of course, Hillary, but Governor Pataki, not at all."
He could represent a fairly moderate voice in the 2016 Republican presidential field, which includes a pack of staunch conservatives. As governor, Pataki declared himself an abortion rights advocate and signed tough gun control legislation.
More recently, he has criticized "religious freedom" bills that conservative candidates backed and called it "inappropriate" when Republican lawmakers wrote to Iranian leaders in a move largely seen as undermining Democratic President Barack Obama.
He launched a fundraising Super-PAC in January and has made appearances in New Hampshire and Florida, important states in the presidential nominating contests.
Pataki, 69, was a first-term state senator in New York when he narrowly beat Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo in the 1994 election.
After leaving the governor's office in 2007, Pataki was a delegate to the United Nations and started a business development firm focused on energy companies.