Republicans, Including Cox, Moving Toward a Challenge to Mondello

ALBANY—Republicans sources say that Ed Cox, the son-in-law of Richard Nixon and a longtime party activist, is now gauging support for a bid to become the state G.O.P. chairman.

"He has been approached by several party leaders and donors about running," Tom Basile, one of Cox's advisers, said.

I've heard from several prominent Republicans that Cox has intensified his conversations with party and elected leaders in the past week. Both John Faso, the former candidate for governor, and former State Senator Ray Meier have declined to go after the chairmanship.

That leaves Cox as one of the few credible names in the mix for those (and there are many) dissatisfied with Mondello. Cox previously had been more interested in being on the statewide ticket as a candidate than as a chairman but, according to one Republican source, he feels strongly about the importance of building a centralized party infrastructure and raising the necessary money—some $1 million dollars a year—to help coordinate things in 2010.

Also still jockeying for the post, though not officially, is Henry Wojtaszek of Niagara County. Some prominent Republicans told me that his cause was hurt by the failure of the coup in the State Senate, and it's unclear how much support he has. The knock against him as the party leader has always been that as an upstater, he doesn't have as intimate access to the party's moneyed base in New York City.

State Chairman Joe Mondello's term expires in September, and he has said he will run for another. The only person to openly declare as a challenger for the post is Dan Isaacs, who earlier this week issued a press release saying "we must advocate a Compact for a 'New' New York, one that is based on accountability, liberty, transparency and true reform." 

"Only by acknowledging the mistakes of the past can we bring about real change and revolutionize our government to reduce the state government's bloated bureaucracy and its outrageous costs; eliminate the culture of corruption and self-dealing that defines Albany; and, eliminate special interest handouts," Isaacs said.

Isaacs is regarded in the party as a long shot.

UPDATE: It looks like things are starting to happen for Cox.