Ed Cox and the Republican Civil War

ed cox ap images Ed Cox and the Republican Civil WarEd Lurie was sipping wine at the end of a long bar off of Union Square on a recent Monday evening and contemplating the future of the Republican Party. “I guess if you have a father-in-law who was president of the United States,” he said, “yeah, you could say you were involved in the state party.” Mr. Lurie was referring to the 64-year-old white-shoe lawyer Ed Cox, who became the head of New York’s Republican Party in 2009 and whose 1971 Rose Garden wedding to President Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia was described by Life magazine as a union “akin to American royalty.” But until two years ago, Mr. Cox had, by his own admission, only a “tangential” relationship to party politics.

Mr. Lurie, on the other hand, is a party lifer. He got swept up in the Rockefeller mania of 1966, becoming the Teenage State Republican Party chairman, and stayed with the G.O.P. for the next four decades, including 10 years as the state party’s executive director. And now he is at the forefront of a roiling effort to oust Mr. Cox from his perch as head of the State Republican Party.

“What do they say-victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan?” he said. “Did we miss opportunities that we should have taken advantage of last November? I would say yes. I think a lot of people would say yes.”

Besides Mr. Lurie, at least a half-dozen other potential candidates are floating their names to take over as state chairman. There is Nick Langworthy, a young county chairman from Erie; Doug Colety, a longtime Westchester County leader; Liz Feld, a former mayor of Larchmont; and Myers Mermel, an ultra-wealthy former candidate for lieutenant governor. And there are still others that may emerge.

That so many are looking to depose Mr. Cox is a little odd. When he took over as chairman in 2009, declining to take a salary for the job, New York Republicans were at their lowest ebb. They held no statewide offices and their representation in Congress had been diminished to two seats. The State Senate, a Republican stronghold for 40 years, had flipped into Democratic hands. Demographic changes in the state meant that the party was facing permanent minority status.

But after Mr. Cox chased out of office Joe Mondello, a longtime and well-liked Nassau County clubhouse power broker, the G.O.P. quickly ousted two county executives in Democratic suburban strongholds. This November saw the Republicans retake six Congressional seats-more than any other state in the union-win back the State Senate and end the Democrats super-majority in the Assembly.