Ed Cox and the Republican Civil War

“This is the real story of the State Republican Party right now, and one no one will write about,” said a party operative aligned with Mr. Cox. “The guys we made kings of New York have turned their backs on us.”

Republicans say that Governor George Pataki has shown little interest in keeping the state party strong, and, more critically, point to Al D’Amato’s standing onstage alongside Kirsten Gillibrand the day she was named to the U.S. Senate. Without Mr. D’Amato, now a big-deal lobbyist, corralling his rolodex for Republicans, the state party has no chance of a comeback.

“He goes on TV like he’s a spokesman for the Republican Party, but he is really just a spokesman for the D’Amato Party,” said one operative. “How can you blame him? This is a Democratic state. He needs to deal with winners.” Mr. D’Amato declined to comment for this article.

Mr. Cox names no names, but said that there were too many elements in the party that had grown content with losing. His job was to get rid of them. “When you have a party that is not on the move, you have a lot of people just doing well off it, working to the detriment of the party. You have got to clean those elements out.”

His opponents say it’s hogwash. The problem, they say, is Mr. Cox, who still hasn’t figured out how to operate the party machinery or rebuild its infrastructure. The race to be the next chairman has, unofficially, already begun, with outreach under way to the 398 members of the state committee who will decide who shall lead them. Another bloody civil war, though, could drag the party’s prospects down further in what could be a very difficult election year.

Mr. Cox said he is ready and, as he does regularly, sprinkles his rhetoric with a mention of you-know-who.

“I am just trying to get something done,” he said. “When I look at the hits my father-in-law took, I say this is nothing.”

dfreedlander@observer.com