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Pataki’s many flirtations with presidential run

If it’s presidential election season, you can pretty much count on George E. Pataki.

Back in 2002, the three-term former governor of New York visited early primary or caucus states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, “testing the waters” for 2004.

For the 2008 and 2012 elections, he established a national political action committee.

But each time, Pataki never officially entered the fray.

That is expected to change next week, when most observers believe he will finally announce for the Republican nomination on May 28.

This time his effort is backed by another fund called “We the People – Not Washington.” The new political action committee recently sponsored New Hampshire television commercials that criticize national Republicans for focusing on social issues like abortion and same sex marriage instead of the economic concerns he says weigh most heavily on voters’ minds.

Pataki’s eye on the White House remains familiar to Robert E. Davis, the former Erie County Republican chairman and close ally of the former governor. Davis recalls performing weeks of political spadework in early primary states preparing for a 2008 presidential bid that never materialized.

“It’s something he’s always wanted to do, and this isn’t a bad year to do it,” Davis said, pointing to the most crowded GOP field of potential candidates in memory.

Though Pataki barely registers in this year’s presidential preference polls, supporters hope his brand of “moderate” Republicanism will resonate in friendly Northeastern turf like New Hampshire with it’s first-in-the-nation primary. They also point to his unlikely rise from mayor of Peekskill through the State Legislature to knock off incumbent Gov. Mario M. Cuomo in 1994.

“He was governor of New York for 12 years with a great record,” Davis said. “He’s young enough, so why not? This time the Republican nomination is up for grabs.”

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com