After a day of rumors and reports that he would do so, George Pataki officially dropped out of the presidential race in an announcement on Tuesday night. The former New York governor spread the message among his closest supporters throughout the day via a series of phone calls, and his primetime announcement came at around 9 p.m. ET, when he had previously scheduled his campaign ads to run in the strategic markets of New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina. According to the reports throughout the day from people who had spoken to Pataki and his announcement Tuesday night, he had planned to drop out to make way for the unification of the Republican party around one candidate.
With an average of zero percent support in the polls, according to RealClearPolitics, it's not surprising that Pataki has decided to throw his hat out of the overcrowded ring for the Republican nomination. Pataki never made it up onto the primetime debate stage during his campaign, having been relegated to the undercard debate each time because of his low status in the polls. He also did not file for either the Ohio or the Texas primaries, which probably should have been our first hint.
What could be surprising, though, is what Pataki chooses to do next. With the campaign out of the way, his schedule will be significantly more open, and he could pursue any number of paths, both personally and professionally. Plus, there's also the question of which remaining candidate he might endorse for the Republican primary.
Pataki's announcement was broadcast on NBC affiliates in key primary states as part of Pataki's deal with the network to ensure that he received the same amount of air time as his competitor Donald Trump. The spot was originally supposed to be a campaign ad, but it made for a convenient option to deliver his final announcement of the race, instead. Although the White House isn't in Pataki's immediate future, some details from his past may indicate what could be next on his radar.
For instance, there's a good chance that Pataki probably won't rush back into politics at the state or local level — although he'd certainly be qualified to do so. Pataki has pretty much already done it all at the various levels of government in his home state of New York. He served as mayor of his hometown, Peekskill; a member of the state assembly (New York's version of the House of Representatives); a member of the state senate; and governor of the state.
Not only has he done it all, but he has plenty going on outside of politics that he can focus on with his free time. Take the Governor George E. Pataki Leadership Center, for example. Located in Peekskill, the center was opened after Pataki's governorship ended, with three of his and his wife's former staff members at its helm. The mission of the center is to educate school-aged children on government and public service — something Pataki clearly knows a lot about. Perhaps he could become more involved in the center when he heads back home to Peekskill.
Pataki has also made a name for himself in the renewable energy field. He joined the renewable energy practice at a New York law firm after his terms as governor. Additionally, he has created his own environmental consulting firm with his former chief of staff. Perhaps Pataki will turn back to the legal field to further his political beliefs from outside the West Wing.
No matter what Pataki does with his free time, he'll probably still be following along with his former competitors as the Republican primaries grow nearer and nearer. Pataki left the race by reiterating his campaign priorities and the work experience that makes him confident he and the future nominee can impact those issues. Although he has officially dropped out, Pataki will likely continue to do whatever he can to make sure that a Republican is elected to the White House in November 2016.