Former NY Governor George Pataki has decided to exit the presidential race claiming that it was turning into a “reality gong show.” Pataki on Tuesday contacted supporters in New Hampshire announcing he was leaving the race. Pataki has failed to average more than 0% in polling and USA Today ranked him 12th out of 13 in this week’s Republican power rankings. Pataki, who flirted with presidential runs in 2008 and 2012, announced his campaign in late May. He quickly put together a local steering committee that included two Republican state senators, but after that failed to gain traction.
The moderate Republican was New York governor for three terms after being elected in 1994. Before embarking on his 2016 campaign, there was speculation he would run in previous presidential cycles. His reported decision to drop out comes weeks before Feb. 1’s Iowa caucus and Feb. 9’s New Hampshire primary. Pataki had missed the filing deadlines in primary states later in the cycle.
Pataki struggled to gain traction in an election season that has favored anti-establishment policies over more seasoned politicians. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) previously dropped out of the race. There are now a dozen major Republicans running for president. Two Pataki supporters said they talked with the former three-term governor and said they weren’t surprised but disappointed to hear the news. Pataki last visited New Hampshire on Dec. 4.
Pataki made little impression in the undercard debates and failed to build an infrastructure of any meaningful size. He was struggling to raise money but insisted to The Hill at the recent Las Vegas debate that he was still holding fundraisers and could still marshal support from donors. Pataki’s absence of organization was laid bare earlier this month when he was the only presidential candidate on the debate stage who failed to submit signatures for the Virginia primary. To get on the Virginia ballot, candidates need to present 5,000 signatures, with 200 coming from each congressional district. Pataki’s campaign did not explain at the time why it failed to meet these requirements.
Pataki’s campaign stops in New Hampshire, a key primary state, have dropped off significantly in December when other campaigns are ramping up. And while many presidential candidates tweet multiple times a day, Pataki’s last post was a salute to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) on December 21, when Graham decided to bow out of the race. Pataki, a more moderate Republican, has been one of the most vocal critics of real-estate magnate and current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, criticizing his inflammatory statements about Muslims and Mexican immigrants.