Spin Cycle

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Cuomo, Pataki, McCall together again

They were the combatants in the particularly nasty 2002 gubernatorial election. But there they were Wednesday — Andrew M. Cuomo, George Pataki and Carl McCall — smiling and shaking hands, touting bipartisanship in New York.

The event was Gov. Cuomo's unveiling of another tax commission, held at Manhattanville College in Purchase, Westchester County. Cuomo named Pataki, the former three-term Republican governor, and McCall, the former state comptroller to head the panel.

The commission is supposed to issue recommendations on tax relief by December — just before the start of the 2014 election year. It is the second tax commission the governor has named in less than a year.

Things weren't so friendly 11 years ago. In 2002, Pataki was running for a third term while McCall and Cuomo were duking it out for the Democratic nomination. Pataki, of course, had defeated Cuomo's father, Mario, in 1994.

As it turned out, that 2002 campaign marked the final electoral triumph for Pataki, the last run for state office for McCall and the low point of Cuomo's political career.

Though he led McCall in the early polls, Cuomo's campaign eventually collapsed over that summer. He announced his withdrawal a week before the primary election that McCall already was set to win. An underfunded McCall went on to lose big to Pataki. After hitting bottom, Cuomo regrouped to win election as state attorney general in 2006 and then governor in 2010.

Perhaps the harshest point in the 2002 campaign came when Cuomo criticized Pataki's role after 9/11, saying the Republican didn't lead but merely "held the leader's coat," referring to then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

At the news conference Wednesday, Pataki joked: "I have to confess that when I got the call from Gov. Cuomo, I wasn't sure he dialed the right number."

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