AG candidate Cahill attempting Ironman

LAKE PLACID – The element of formidable challenge drew John Cahill to two races this year: one political and the other athletic.

As a Republican candidate for New York’s attorney general, he hopes to secure the statewide popular vote majority over incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman on Nov. 4. As an Ironman triathlete, he trains to conquer more than 140 miles of swimming, biking and running on Sunday.

Athletics and politics are familiar passions for the 56-year-old Cahill.

While working as a partner in an environmental and government law firm for nine years in his early career, he competed in dozens of athletic contests, such as the New York City Marathon, the Mighty Montauk triathlon and, in the Adirondacks, the Tupper Lake Tinman triathlon.

In 1999, he competed in Lake Placid’s first Ironman with 14 years of endurance racing under his belt, finishing with a time of 12 hours and 37 minutes – the last person to cross the finish line before midnight. At the time, he oversaw more than 3,700 employees as the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation under Gov. George Pataki.

After becoming the senior policy advisor to Pataki in 2001, he helped, among other things, orchestrate the state response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

From 2002 to 2004, Cahill served as chief of staff to Pataki, making him the highest-ranked appointed official in New York state.

Since Pataki left office in 2006, Cahill has worked as a lawyer in private practice, partnering with the former governor in the Pataki Cahill Group for the last five years.

Cahill competed in his second Lake Placid Ironman in 2009, finishing with a time of, once again, 12 hours and 37 minutes – although this time seven seconds faster than in 1999, at 12:37:39.

Cahill lives in Yonkers with his wife and children, somehow finding time in a busy schedule to condition for his athletic hobby.

Like the hills on the Lake Placid Ironman course, facing a well-funded incumbent may be an uphill battle. He says he wants to focus on political integrity in lieu of the Moreland Commision fallout and “give New Yorkers the quality of leadership they deserve.”

The attorney general is New York state’s head legal advisor and law enforcement officer.