1994 New York gubernatorial election

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New York gubernatorial election, 1994

← 1990 November 8, 1994 1998 →
  George Pataki NYC 2000.jpg Mario Cuomo NY Governor 1987.jpg
Nominee George Pataki Mario Cuomo
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate Betsy McCaughey Stan Lundine
Popular vote 2,488,631 2,364,904
Percentage 48.8% 45.4%

County Results

Pataki:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%      80-90%

Cuomo      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Governor before election

Mario Cuomo

Elected Governor

George Pataki

The New York gubernatorial election of 1994 was an election for the state governorship held on November 8, 1994. The election resulted in the upset defeat of Democratic incumbent Governor Mario Cuomo by Republican George Pataki. The win was one of the most notable of the "Republican Revolution" that year.

Democratic primary[edit]

While Governor Mario Cuomo's approval ratings throughout 1993 and towards 1994 were slipping (usually under 40%), no major names appeared or sought to challenge him for the Democratic nomination. Only two candidates announced their intention to challenge Cuomo; Lenora Fulani, who had been the nominee of the New Alliance Party for governor in 1990 and for president in 1988 and 1992, and Roy Innis, the National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Ultimately Innis did not turn in any petitions though Fulani, despite facing a small challenge to her own petitions, made it onto the ballot.

However, despite succeeding on making it onto the ballot, Fulani's bid was generally considered a losing effort with no hope of keeping the nomination away from Cuomo. Cuomo for his part refused to join her in any debates and, like many other Democrats, questioned whether Fulani was actually seeking the Democratic nomination or merely attempting to convince African-American voters to move over to the New Alliance Party; these views were rather quickly legitimized by Lenora Fulani herself. Most African-American politicos of note however would continue to support Mario Cuomo for the nomination, with the notable exception of Adam Clayton Powell IV. Fulani was also far outstripped when it came to fundraising, raising a paltry $93,000 to Cuomo's $6 million.

Despite fears among some that African-Americans voters would punish former New York Mayor David Dinkins's loss to Rudy Giuliani to his administration's response to the Crown Heights riot and criticism of Dinkins's efforts to handle it, Cuomo defeated Fulani by a 58.9% margin in the Democratic primary on September 13.[1][2][3][4]




  • Roy Innis, National Chairman of CORE (Effectively Withdrew – July 14, 1994)


Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Results[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mario Cuomo 548,762 79.45
Democratic Lenora Fulani 141,918 20.55
Total votes 690,680 100.00

Republican primary[edit]






Initially most expected Senator Al D'Amato to be the Republican and Conservative party nominee for governor in 1994 and began what looked like the beginnings of a campaign late in September when he attacked Mario Cuomo's record as governor, claiming that New York had become "the taxasaurus and spendasaurus capital of the nation." However, less than a month later D'Amato had definitively chosen not to run, feeling that his party might take control of the Senate in the 1994 elections, which would make him chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. (That is what eventually happened.)

After considering several candidates, D'Amato, in conjunction with the State Party Chairman William Powers, decided to endorse the candidacy of State Senator George Pataki, who, it was thought, could mend the growing rift between the party's moderate and conservative factions.[8][9][10]

However, before even D'Amato made his decision to forgo seeking the Republican nomination for governor, former gubernatorial candidate Herbert London declared on October 5. Running on a platform of tax cuts, reductions in state Medicaid and welfare payments and social conservatism, London was critical of both Cuomo and D'Amato, the later especially given his support of pork barrel politics while also espousing support for fiscal conservatism. However, even after D'Amato had withdraw and so allowed for campaign funds to become available to other candidates, by mid-January, he had just under $4,000 in donations left out of about $54,000 raised despite his considerable base of supporters. Because of that and his social conservatism, many Republican party leaders considered him sure to lose against Cuomo, who would drive many swing voters back towards the Democratic nominee.[11][12]

Evan Galbraith, a businessman from Manhattan and former ambassador to France under the Reagan Administration, decided to explore running for the Republican nomination on January 4, and nearly instantly obtained endorsements from several notable figures, among them Henry Kissinger and William Buckley. Galbraith was considered by some as an alternative to London, holding similar positions (Galbraith wished to cut property and individual taxes in half, to reduce welfare spending, and to reinstate the death penalty) but at the same time managing to appeal to a larger base of moderates who would be key to winning the election. Galbraith had also previously been a candidate for governor in 1990, but his candidacy was taken to court, where it was declared that he was ineligible due to not having lived in New York for the required five years. Galbraith would finally formally declare on April 29, but by this time most conservatives had coalesced around either London or Pataki.[13][14]

State Senator George Pataki formally declared his candidacy on March 14, but had been actively preparing for a campaign since the previous fall with the support of D'Amato and William Powers. While Pataki on paper at least appeared as a unifying candidate capable of appealing to both conservative and moderate Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Ralph Marino refused to support his nomination, angry over Pataki's association with Change – New York which had worked to prevent his reelection. There was also concern over Pataki's position on the abortion issue, with both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice organizations not being satisfied as to his "middle-ground" approach.[15]

Former U.S. Representative Bill Green declared his candidacy on March 18, hoping to become the moderate alternative to Pataki and London, claiming he was conservative on fiscal issues while "sensibly compassionate" on social issues. His bid was almost instantly fatally wounded however when Michael Long, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, made it clear that he did not think Green could be nominated by them, possibly resulting in a rerun of the 1990 Gubernatorial Election where the Republican and Conservative candidates split the vote. However Green remained confident that, if nominated, he could pull enough votes together from the center that he could potentially defeat Cuomo, even if the Conservatives nominated their own ticket.[7]

Former State Party Chairman Richard Rosenbaum was the last to declare on March 23 with a platform very similar to that of Bill Green but went even further, supporting Medicaid-financed abortions and tighter restrictions on guns. He also managed to create a much larger campaign chest of about $1.2 million (dwarfing that even of George Pataki) and decided against trying for an automatic ballot spot through the convention process, opting instead to directly petition for a place on the ballot; Rosenbaum, a Republican of the Rockefeller mold, had no illusions as to his chances of attaining the required 25% of the vote to succeed in doing so. Rosenbaum also decried the Republican party's efforts to work with the Conservative party, considering it "a recipe for losing", and sought to bring the state Republican party as a whole back towards the center.[6][16][17]

J. Patrick Barrett, a businessman from Syracuse who was expected for some time to also join the race, dropped out on May 20 when he came to the conclusion that he could not obtain the support of 25% of the delegates to the Party state convention, which would have put him on the ballot for the September 13 primary election.[18]


At the Republican Party state convention Pataki won the overwhelming support of the delegates present with Herbert London, the runner-up, falling short of the required 25% to automatically obtain a place on the party's primary ballot despite the support of Senate Majority Leader Ralph Marino. Controversy was stirred when supporters of Bill Green intended to change their vote from Green to London so as to possibly put him above the 25% threshold for automatic inclusion in the primary, but were prevented by party leaders who declared the vote final. Even had the entirety of Green's vote had gone to London however, he would have needed the support of some of Galbraith's delegates in order to have done so.[19]

Republican State Convention Vote[19]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican George Pataki - 72.40
Republican Herbert London 22.10
Republican Evan Galbraith 2.80
Republican Bill Green 2.60
Republican Scattering 0.10
Total votes 100.00


London, Galbraith and Green were all initially determined to petition to be on the primary ballot on September 13, but efforts were made to try and assuage any additional conflict within the party's nomination process. In return for his support, Herbert London was nominated for the position of Comptroller, allowing for Pataki to secure much of London's support within both the Republican and Conservative parties. A few days later on May 31, Bill Green would withdraw so as not to potentially split the vote of moderate Republicans with Richard Rosenbaum and endorse him.

With the support of almost the entire party behind him however, George Pataki managed to easily win the primary on September 13 by a 51% margin. Richard Rosenbaum would endorse Pataki the next day.[16][19][20]


Republican Gubernatorial Primary Results[21]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican George Pataki 273,620 75.60
Republican Richard M. Rosenbaum 88,302 24.40
Total votes 361,922 100.00

Conservative primary[edit]

Conservative Gubernatorial Primary Results[22]
Party Candidate Votes %
Conservative George Pataki 17,649 78.40
Conservative Robert G. Relph, Sr. 4,862 21.60
Total votes 22,511 100.00

Independence Party[edit]

Independence candidate:

  • Richard M. Rosenbaum, former Chairman of the Republican Party of New York (Initial Nominee – Withdrew September 14 – Endorsed George Pataki)[23]
  • Tom Golisano, businessman (Nominated – Added to Ballot September 28)[24]

Libertarian Party[edit]

The original Libertarian candidate was New York City radio personality Howard Stern, who announced his candidacy for governor on his nationally syndicated radio show on March 22, 1994 on a platform of reinstating the death penalty, letting road crews work only at night, staggering highway tolls to prevent traffic jams, and to resign from office as soon as these goals were accomplished. Shortly thereafter the majority of state Libertarian Party members (there were only around 600 active members at the time) worked to draft Stern to run on their ticket, most considering him their best option to attain for the party automatic ballot access. Stern won the party's nomination by a two-thirds majority on the first ballot at their state convention on April 23, 1994.[25]

Libertarian State Convention Vote[26]
Party Candidate Votes %
Libertarian Howard Stern 287 75.33
Libertarian James Ostrowski 34 8.92
Libertarian Norma Segal 24 6.30
Libertarian Dottie Lou Brokaw 22 5.77
Libertarian Joseph Brennan 10 2.63
Independent Scattering 4 1.05
Total votes 381 100.00

Later however, Stern refused to file the financial disclosures required by law of any party seeking to hold public office; he filed suit against the state of New York arguing the law violated his right to privacy and freedom of association. When the court denied his petition for injunction, Stern called a press conference on August 4, 1994 and withdrew from the election. However Howard Stern had in the months since his nomination also found himself increasingly strained from the state Libertarian party's leadership, having refused to communicate with them effectively or to aid them in collecting the 15,000 signatures needed to put the party on the ballot. Some had even argued that Stern should have simply let the case drag on until the party's nominees were put on the ballot on October 3, where he could then have withdrawn while his name would have remained on the ballot and would not be able to be removed.[27]

Robert L. Schulz, a political activist from Queensbury, New York, replaced Stern on the statewide ballot. Stern's running mate, Stan Dworkin of Westchester County, remained on the slate as candidate for lieutenant governor.

General campaign[edit]

Though early on in the election Cuomo led by as much as ten points, Pataki was eventually able to tie him due to his difficulty in defending his record. Pataki promised to cut income taxes by 25 percent which appealed to voters in an economic downturn.

One key issue in the election was capital punishment. Cuomo had long been a staunch opponent of the death penalty while Pataki supported it. In the 1980s and early 1990s most New Yorkers supported capital punishment due to high crime rates. Republican ads pointed to the case of Arthur Shawcross, a multiple murderer convicted of manslaughter who was paroled by New York in 1987 and committed additional murders while on release (during the time Cuomo was governor). This revelation caused a significant loss of support for Cuomo.


Source Date Pataki (R) Cuomo (D) Golisano (IF)
Buffalo News Nov. 6, 1994 38% 42% 5%
Marist Institute Nov. 3, 1994 40% 43% 7%
New York Daily News Nov. 3, 1994 36% 50% 7%
New York Post/FOX-TV Nov. 2, 1994 32% 46% -
Quinnipiac College[28] Nov. 1, 1994 31% 44% 7%
New York Times Oct. 31, 1994 34% 44% -
New York Daily News/WNBC Oct. 30, 1994 42% 43% -
New York Post/FOX-TV Oct. 30, 1994 40% 36% -
New York Times/WCBS-TV Oct. 7, 1994 44% 41% -
Quinnipiac College Oct. 2, 1994 38% 42% -
Marist Institute Oct. 2, 1994 44% 38% -
WROC-TV/WIXT-TV Sep. 16, 1994 41% 35% -
New York Post/Buffalo News Sep. 11, 1994 43% 41% -


While the race was very close overall, Pataki won by running up huge margins outside of New York City. Cuomo won only one county outside of the Five Boroughs, Albany County.

New York gubernatorial election, 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican George Pataki 2,156,057 41.43%
Conservative George Pataki 328,605 6.31%
Tax Cut Now George Pataki 54,040 1.04%
Total George Pataki 2,538,702 48.79% +27.44%
Democratic Mario Cuomo 2,272,903 43.68%
Liberal Mario Cuomo 92,001 1.77%
Total Mario Cuomo (incumbent) 2,364,904 45.45% −7.72%
Independence Tom Golisano 217,490 4.18% N/A
Right to Life Robert T. Walsh 67,750 1.30% −2.10%
Libertarian Robert L. Schulz 9,506 0.18% −0.43%
Socialist Workers Lawrence Lane 5,410 0.10% −0.21%
Majority 173,798 3.34% -28.49%
Turnout 5,203,762
Republican gain from Democratic

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Moynihan Won't Fight The Petitions Of Sharpton". The New York Times. 15 July 1994.
  2. ^ "Pataki Will Face Rival in Republican Primary". The New York Times. 28 July 1994.
  3. ^ "Tilting at the Same Windmill, but on a Faster Steed". The New York Times. 11 September 1994.
  4. ^ "Pataki Easily Wins the Right to Oppose Cuomo". The New York Times. 14 September 1994.
  5. ^ "Our Campaigns - NY Governor - R Primary Race - Sep 13, 1994".
  6. ^ a b "G.O.P. Leader Will Run For Governor as 'Moderate'". The New York Times. 23 March 1994.
  7. ^ a b "Ex-Rep. Green Announces for Governor". The New York Times. 19 March 1994.
  8. ^ "D'Amato, Raising Funds, Assails Cuomo's Record as Governor". The New York Times. 28 September 1993.
  9. ^ "D'Amato Skips a Race". The New York Times. 20 October 1993.
  10. ^ "Peekskill Legislator to Seek Governor Nomination". The New York Times. 10 November 1993.
  11. ^ "Conservative Is Joining G.O.P. Race for Governor". The New York Times. 5 October 1993.
  12. ^ "Candidate Seeks New Armor For Crusade Against Cuomo". The New York Times. 31 January 1994.
  13. ^ "New Gubernatorial Entry Gets Financial Backing". The New York Times. 5 January 1994.
  14. ^ "Galbraith, a Former Envoy, Enters the Gubernatorial Race". The New York Times. 29 April 1994.
  15. ^ "State Senator Pataki Formally Declares Challenge to Cuomo". The New York Times. 15 March 1994.
  16. ^ a b "Republicans and Conservatives Solidify Efforts Against Cuomo". The New York Times. 26 May 1994.
  17. ^ Sack, Kevin (1994-03-20). "POLITICAL NOTES - Seeking a Nomination Without a Party's Help". New York State: NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  18. ^ Sack, Kevin (1994-05-21). "G.O.P. Race For Governor Is Narrowed". New York State: NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  19. ^ a b c "G.O.P. Backs a Legislator to Oppose Cuomo". The New York Times. 24 May 1994.
  20. ^ "Green Dropping Out Of Governor Race; Backing Rosenbaum". Associated Press. 1 June 1994 – via The New York Times.
  21. ^ "Our Campaigns - NY Governor - D Primary Race - Sep 13, 1994".
  22. ^ "Our Campaigns - NY Governor - C Primary Race - Sep 13, 1994".
  23. ^ "SWIPING AT CUOMO, PATAKI GIVES OUT PLAN ON GOVERNING". The New York Times. 15 September 1994.
  24. ^ "Campaign Trail; Cuomo the Ballplayer Helps Cuomo the Candidate". The New York Times. 29 September 1994.
  25. ^ "Gov. Howard Stern? Some Fail to See Humor". The New York Times. 3 April 1994.
  26. ^ "Our Campaigns - NY Governor - LBT Convention Race - Apr 23, 1994".
  27. ^ "For Stern, It's Balk Radio: He Ends Bid for Governor". The New York Times. 5 August 1994.
  28. ^ "New Poll Gives Cuomo 13-point Lead In New York".