ALBANY—Erie County Republican Chairman Jim Domagalski has sent letters to Republican chairs and officials around the state reminding them that County Executive Chris Collins is a potential candidate for statewide office.
According to people who received the letters, it includes a summary of Collins' biography and accomplishments and explicitly mentions a statewide run.
"It was a letter that came from the chairman about Mr. Collins's positives. I'm assuming that Collins just wants to make sure he's not being counted out," said Jasper Nolan, chairman of the Saratoga County Republican Party, who received the letter yesterday. Collins has also formed an exploratory committee and made trips around the state. He would be a rival to other potential Republican candidates, including Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki, whose surrogates are backing Wojtaszek. Liz reported that former attorney general Dennis Vacco, a western New York native, has also joined this "unholy alliance."
As such, the timing of the letter may be telling. Collins is backing Ed Cox in his bid to succeed Joe Mondello as chair of the Republican State Committee, passing over his neighbor to the north Henry Wojtaszek, currently the Niagara County chairman.
Domagalski is close to both Collins and Wojtaszek, and has endorsed neither Wojtaszek nor Cox. But, several Republican sources noted, a Collins reminder flies against the as-yet-solidified Wojtaszek-Giuliani nexus.
"It's very telling, considering that there's been no endorsement yet from Jim Domagalski of his neighboring county chairman," said Jim Ellis, the Franklin County Republican chairman and an early Cox backer, of the letter.
Domagalski did not return a call and an e-mail seeking comment. Wojtaszek told me by phone that Domagalski has been an "ally" but was waiting to have a more open process before backing either state chairman.
"Jim is a friend and ally, and I've watched him go through these other races, and he's been very successful in taking the time to vet those people that have come before him and to make sure those people that come before him," Wojtaszek said. "I've had conversations with Jim Domagalski, and my understanding is they're going to have a process in Erie County similar to like they were in Manhattan."
Wojtaszek and Cox met there last night for a debate before members of the executive county committee. Manhattan chairwoman Jennifer Saul has also not made an endorsement of either candidate.
Chris Grant, Collins' chief of staff, noted that this is not the first letter that Domagalski has sent out on Collins' behalf; Collins spokesman Grant Loomis sent along this statement on the chairmanship:
County Executive Collins believes that the 2010 statewide elections are a watershed for New York. We can either elect leaders willing to challenge the status quo and reform our once glorious state, or we can continue to elect career politicians who answer only to the special interests who have led our state down the road to ruin."
We are now privileged to have candidates willing to lead our party and deliver for the residents of this state. Henry Wojtaszek is a bright and shining star in our party with a long future ahead of him.
Ed Cox was the first to seize the initiative to unseat the status-quo weeks ago. Over the years, he had demonstrated his commitment to our state and our party. As a result, County Executive Collins is supporting Mr. Cox.