Pataki, George Elmer (pətäˈkē, –tăkˈē) [key], 1945–, U.S. politician, b. Peekskill, N.Y. He graduated from Yale Univ. (1967) and Columbia Law School (1970). A Republican, Pataki served as mayor of Peekskill (1981–84) and in the New York assembly (1985–92) and senate (1992–94). In 1994 he defeated incumbent Mario Cuomo to become governor of New York state. One of his first acts as governor was to reinstitute the death penalty in the state. He was reelected in 1998 and 2002, but chose not to run in 2006.