ALBANY—Craig Eaton, the Brooklyn Republican chairman, says he sees no problem backing Ed Cox as chairman of the state party while working to "Draft Rudy" Giuliani as the Republican gubernatorial candidate.
"I just think that at this time, in the current state of the Republican Party in the state of New York, Ed has the qualities and characteristics and experience. As far as reconciling the draft Rudy movement, I think it's clear that Ed Cox will make the best chairman and Rudy will make the best governor," Eaton told me by phone.
Giuliani has been backing Henry Wojtaszek, the Niagara County Republican chairman who entered the race after the current state chairman, Joe Mondello, said he would not seek re-election. Wojtaszek is receiving support from Mondello, Giuliani's surrogates, as well as surrogates of George Pataki.
Eaton said a consultant working for Giuliani called him last week to try and earn his support. While Eaton has been active in trying to get Giuliani to run for governor, he said he didn't think a Cox chairmanship would stunt a Giuliani candidacy.
"In these kinds of situations, if that were to become the play, I think they would definitely get along," Eaton said. Cox chaired John McCain's campaign in New York as Giuliani ran his own, unsuccessful, campaign for the presidency. "From what I see and I haven't really spoken to either of them about the history and the past, but from what I read in years past they had a very good professional relationship. At the end of the day, I know that Ed and Rudy will do what's best for the party."
I asked Eaton if Wojtaszek would be his own person, or simply a front for his backers. He described Wojtaszek as a "young, professional, articulate man."
"I think that Henry would be his own man," Eaton said. "I think that he entered the race before any of these people were supporting him. What happened is, he was waiting to see what Joe Mondello did, and once Joe Mondello decided not to run, he threw his hat into the ring."
Talking to Fred Dicker on Talk 1300, Rockland County Republican Chairman Vinny Reda was more eager to attack Wojtaszek. Reda, who is the party's vice chairman, is backing Cox.
"I think Ed Cox would be his own man, and he's an independent leader at this point in time," Reda said. "As you know, Henry has surrounded himself with the likes of Tom Golisano, and certainly we don't need Tom Golisano telling us who our state chair should be."