George Pataki was born in Peekskill, New York. He is a 1967 graduate of Yale University and a 1970 graduate of Columbia Law School. Before being elected Governor, George Pataki served 10 years in the New York state Legislature and was Mayor of Peekskill. He was first elected Governor of New York in 1994, by defeating the Democratic incumbent, Mario Cuomo. His running mate for lieutenant governor in the 1994 election was Betsy McCaughey Ross, who proved to be controversial once in office. Pataki, now running with Mary Donohue, was reelected in 1998, defeating the Democratic candidate Peter Vallone 54%-33% and in 2002, receiving 49% of the vote while Democrat Carl McCall received 33% and independent candidate Tom Golisano received 14%.
Pataki and his wife, Elizabeth, have four children.