Republican Gov. George Pataki, running for his third term, has gained the endorsement of New York City's largest teachers union over Democratic challenger H. Carl McCall.

The endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers had been widely expected to go Pataki's way. It was formalized Wednesday in a vote by delegates of the New York City-based union, which has 140,000 members.

It was the first time the union has endorsed Pataki. The union backed incumbent Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994 and City Council Speaker Peter Vallone in 1998. Both are Democrats.

Union President Randi Weingarten said Pataki earned the endorsement, adding that it the union's policy to endorse incumbents with good records.

McCall, the state comptroller, has said the governor brokered a deal for the endorsement by finding more money to pay teachers.