The Pataki playbook: Appeal across party lines

John Cahill, left, listens to then-Gov. George Pataki John Cahill, left, listens to then-Gov. George Pataki at the State Capitol in Albany on Wednesday, May 26, 2004. Photo Credit: AP / Jim McKnight

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RYE BROOK -- Former Gov. George Pataki, who was the last Republican to win statewide office in New York, said the GOP will win this year, as he did, by appealing to Democrats and other voters not enrolled in any party.

When you reach out, not only do you have a better chance of winning, but when you do win, you can put together the coalition, the ideas, the solutions the people want, Pataki said in an interview at the state Republican convention Wednesday.

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The former three-term governor, who fielded calls from former supporters in Spanish, added: Thats what our ticket today is looking to do.

Pataki said that strategy is clear in the candidacies of Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, and John Cahill of Yonkers, Patakis former top aide. Astorino is taking on Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo; Cahill is challenging Democrat Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

Too often, the strategy among Republican candidates, just like the strategy among Democrats, has been to divide, said Pataki, who left office at the end of 2006. And in my view, not only is it not right politically, but at least as important and probably more important it makes it very hard to govern.

Four years ago, Republican nominee Carl Paladino underscored conservative values in the state that has come to be dominated by Democratic voters 2 to 1 over Republicans. He lost by nearly 30 percentage points to Cuomo.

Pataki said the Republican Party is different than it was four years ago, when it lost every statewide race.

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First of all, the party is united. Second of all we are running candidates who have proven their ability to appeal across party lines, Pataki said. And to win in this state, you not only need Republican and Conservative voters. You need Democrats and independents. Rob has show he can cover successfully and can appeal across party lines in Westchester. John Cahill did that in Albany.

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