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Ed Cox takes a second turn as head of NY's Republican Party

New York State GOP Chair Ed Cox speaks with reporters on Tuesday
Karen DeWitt
New York State Public Radio
New York State Republican Party Chair Ed Cox speaks with reporters in 2017 in this file photo.

The New York State Republican Party has elected its next chair to steer the party through the 2024 elections.

Ed Cox is taking a second turn at running the party. The son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon said he wants to build on inroads made by Republicans in New York in 2022.

Cox and other Republicans at the party’s annual meeting, held Monday outside Albany, are buoyed by some unexpected wins in New York in 2022. Though a predicted nationwide red wave never materialized, the New York GOP flipped four congressional seats, and the governor’s race was the closest it’s been in nearly three decades.

Cox believes Republicans in 2024 can take down the Democrats’ supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly. He said the Senate’s recent rejection of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s choice for chief judge – the first time in the state’s history that’s happened – shows that Democrats in the Legislature have too much power.

“They're drunk with power,” Cox said. “And they're now trying to take over the judiciary. That's corruption of the worst sort. It's corruption of the foundations of our democracy.”

Cox said Republicans need to win just three more seats in the Assembly and one in the Senate to end the Democrats’ supermajority status. He plans to focus on regions where Republicans performed strongly in 2022, including Long Island and the Hudson Valley, and he aims to win back seats lost to Democrats in the Buffalo and Rochester areas.

Cox previously served 10 years as party chair, from 2009 to 2019, until he left to lead a fundraising effort for then-President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term. He was succeeded by Nick Langworthy, who is stepping down after being elected to Congress last fall.

Cox said he plans to provide a fresh outlook, and his leadership team will include several new faces.

“We're bringing in a team that does have a lot of new blood,” Cox told reporters. “I just happen to be the chairman, the leader of this team.”

Cox said he will rely on, among others, the advice of John Faso, a former congressman and Assembly Republican leader who spearheaded a successful challenge of Democratic-drawn election district lines.

Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats by 2 to 1 in New York, and they have fewer members than the number of New Yorkers who identify as independent voters. But Cox said he thinks the Republican platform of public safety, job creation and improving education are more in step with average New Yorkers than some of the values of the Democratic Party. He said New York may be a blue state, but it’s more a blue-collar type of blue.

And he said Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is up for reelection this year, is vulnerable.

“She's a non-entity. People don't know what she's done or what she intends to do,” said Cox. “And I think she's going to have challenges on her side. And I think we can win that race.”

According to The Daily Beast, Gillibrand has told donors that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo might seek to challenge her in a primary. The 2022 GOP candidate for governor, former Rep. Lee Zeldin, has been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for the post.

Cox is refusing to be drawn into the 2024 presidential race this early and won’t say whether he would support Trump or if it’s time for a new candidate.

He pointed out that he remained neutral in 2016, though he ultimately became a staunch Trump supporter.

Cox also would not weigh in on whether controversial Long Island Rep. George Santos, who appears to have fabricated most aspects of his biography, should resign.

“He’s a complete fabulist,” Cox said.

Nassau County Republican leaders, including County Executive Bruce Blakeman, have called on Santos to resign. The congressman is facing a number of state and federal investigations. Cox said the state party could change its position on whether Santos should stay or go, depending on the outcome of those probes.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.