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Cox wins re-election as NY GOP chair, blasts Cuomo policies

Karen DeWitt
WRVO News File Photo

New York Republicans re-elected Ed Cox to a fourth term as their party’s chairman, while GOP members talked of strategies toward winning more seats in statewide races.   

Ed Cox, who is the son in law of former President Richard Nixon,  was elected unanimously by party leaders, after a threatened challenge by Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey failed to materialize.

There have been tensions in the party between the more traditional northeastern Republicans like Cox, and leading state Senate Republicans, and the more right wing activist sector of the party, influenced by 2010 gubernatorial candidate and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

Cox says now, all Republicans in New York have to work together “if we are going to be successful as a minority party in New York state."

The first task for the chairman is the special election for the open Senate seat in the Binghamton area, vacant because its former occupant, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, was convicted on felony corruption charges earlier this summer.  Cox says he has confidence in his party’s candidate, Deputy Sheriff Fred Akshar, and criticized Democratic candidate Barbara Fiala, who is supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for going on vacation at the start of the campaign.

Cox says also thinks Republicans have a chance in the New York City mayoral race in 2017, and he hopes to springboard momentum there into winning the governor’s seat the following year. He says while Republicans have lost the past several races for governor, the Democrats’ margin of victory has been shrinking. He says Eliot Spitzer won the governor’s race with 69 percent of the vote in 2006, Andrew Cuomo won with 62 percent in 2010, and in 2014 received 54 percent of the vote .

“I like the trend,” Cox said.

The most recent Republican candidate for governor, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, says the main issues he criticized on during the campaign have become even more of a problem in the past year. Including the troubled Common Core learning standards and the state investment known as the Buffalo billion .

“Common Core, he’s realizing then one out of every five kids doesn’t take the test, that it’s an issue,” said Astorino, who says “just renaming it” won’t fix the problem. State Education Department officials said recently that they might call Common Core something else in the future .

Astorino says if Buffalo had a better business climate, the state would not need to invest $750 million in taxpayer funds into a plant by Elon Musk’s Solar City.

U.S Attorney PreetBharara is probing some of the contracts involved in the Buffalo Billion plan, but so far no one has been accused of doing anything wrong.

Cox says the Buffalo Billion, was a blunder.

“When you strain to get reelected, as the governor did, you make mistake,” said Cox. “He made bad mistakes, he’s going to pay for those mistakes.”

Astorino says he’s leaning towards running again  for governor in 2018. Other potential candidates include Hudson Valley Rep. Chris Gibson (R-Rockville Center), who recently came out again climate change.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.