24 Chairs for Cox

ALBANY—The chairs of 23 24 county Republican organizations have signed a letter supporting Ed Cox for state chairman, following a weekend "listening tour" in central New York and several weeks of conversations.

"Our friend and colleague Joe Mondello has served our party for many years in various capacities. He deserves our respect and gratitude for his efforts," says the letter. "However, the time has come for new leadership and a new direction that will ensure our party moves into the future with renewed strength."

The list mostly includes upstate officials, including party vice chairmen Jim Ellis and Bill Hatch. The chairs of Brooklyn and Westchester counties also signed the letter.

Mondello's term expires in September. Matt Walter, his spokesman, has said he plans to run again, despite the increasingly open jockeying to replace him. In addition to Cox, Niagara County G.O.P. chairman Henry Wojtaszek has said he is exploring a run, but I haven't heard much from him lately. Dan Isaacs is also openly campaigning.

The chairmanship is determined by a weighted vote; as head of the Nassau County Committee Mondello controls a large chunk of it for himself, and Queens boss Phil Ragusa is said to stand with him. Jasper Nolan, chairman of the Saratoga County Republican Committee, has told me he supports Mondello. Other counties noticeably absent from Cox's letter are Suffolk, Bronx, Manhattan, Monroe, and Erie, all of which are large.

"I am truly honored that in such a short time, so many of our county chairs from all across the state have pledged their support for my effort to serve as our next State chairman.  I am also grateful for still other chairmen, elected officials and party activists that have indicated support and enthusiasm for my candidacy," Cox said in a statement (distributed under a flashy new logo!). "This is just the beginning of an exciting and vital effort to reinvigorate our Republican Party."

Cox has also assembled a "finance committee-in-waiting" to begin stoking party coffers if he is installed as chairman.

UPDATE: I swear I can count past 20; one of the chairs was cut off between the e-mail and the PDF. Cox has 24 signatories.

24 Chairs for Cox