Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bad News for Pataki

New York's Governor George Pataki is having a bad week. Budget negotiations with the legislature are going poorly for him, as they have tended to do in recent years, and the chances of a budget being passed on time this year (April 1) are diminishing by the day. And a new poll out from John Zogby yesterday reveals that Pataki's chances for political advancement are looking even less rosy.

If next year's gubernatorial election were held today, Zogby reports, Pataki would lose to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer by 18 percentage points: Spitzer garnered the support of 49% of those surveyed to Pataki's 31%. Zogby shows Pataki trailing Spitzer in every region of the state, and in every demographic group except those earning above $75,000 annually (and even with those folks Pataki claims only a 1% lead). Just 19% say Pataki deserves reelection,

Perhaps the worst news of all for the governor is that 23% of Republicans said they'll vote for Spitzer next fall (and only 34% think that he deserves a fourth term). Had the Zogby pollsters called, I would have placed myself in that camp. Pataki has been, for the most part, a disappointment. He has failed to use his clout as a moderate within the party to advance centrist principles, and has been an ineffective advocate for New York with the Bush Administration and national Republican leaders in Congress. Might as well have a Democrat who'll do something than a Republican who doesn't.

The time has come for Governor Pataki to end his gubernatorial career: he should announce, and soon, that he will not seek reelection in 2006. Such a move would allow him to finish his current term out from under the specter of political posturing, and also gives the state Republican party time to find and field another, more appropriate candidate to run against Spitzer next year. Of course, rumblings continue to circulate of a Pataki presidential bid in 2008, and vacating the governor's chair would give Pataki a chance to lay the groundwork for that campaign. Let's just hope if he does start running in the White House derby, Pataki remembers he's a moderate.


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