|Governor of New York|
From: January 1, 1995 – December 31, 2006
Born and raised on his family farm in Westchester County, New York to Hungarian immigrants, he graduated from Yale University in 1967 and Columbia Law School in 1970 on academic scholarships. Pataki began his political career by serving as Mayor of his home town of Peekskill. He went on to serve 10 years in the New York State legislature. He was elected Governor in the 1994 Republican sweep year, defeating incumbent Democrat Mario Cuomo. Pataki was the first Governor of New York since Franklin D. Roosevelt to not be from New York City. He was easily reelected in 1998 and 2002. From the begining of his administration he instituted major spending cuts. Pataki's governance included a period of economic expansion for New York State, $100 billion in tax cuts, reduced welfare and 600,000 added jobs. In 2005, New York had an on-time budget for the first time in twenty-one years. He enact more than 100 new laws to toughen penalties for criminals and eliminated parole for violent felony offenders. The crime rate in New York State fell for eleven consecutive years, by the end of his tenure as Governor, violent crime dropped 54% and New York was recognized as the safest large state in America. .
A Republican in name only, Pataki is pro-choice regarding abortion (although supports the ban on partial birth abortion)  and vetoed a bill that would allow sale of the morning-after pill.  Additionally, he is a strong supporter of environmental protection. He played a major role in the clean-up of the Hudson River and Long Island Sound. Pataki signed major health care legislation in 1999 that provided health insurance coverage, under Family Health Plus, to lower income adults who do not have health insurance through their employers. George Pataki was governor during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and led lower Manhattan through recovery and rebuilding. Pataki suffered health problems towards the end of his governorship after he suffered a burst appendix and had to go through significant operation.
Pataki's name was mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2000 and 2008, although he declined to run. It is rumored that he may run for the United States Senate in 2010 against Kirsten Gillibrand.  Public opinion polls indicate a Pataki victory.