What does it say about Rudy Giuliani’s influence that he couldn’t convince state Republicans to name his guy as party chairman?
Giuliani worked the phones on behalf of Henry Wojtaszek, the Niagara County Republican boss, but without a firm declaration that the former mayor was, in fact, running for governor, the county chairmen swung the other way. Yesterday, Wojtaszek withdrew his name, ceding the contest to lead the state party to Ed Cox, a Manhattan attorney who crossed Giuliani in 2008. Cox is the son-in-law of President Richard Nixon.
Politicker’s Jimmy Vielkind heard from one Republican last week that the chairmanship was Rudy’s to lose: “If Giuliani said, ‘I’m running for this, and Henry is going to be my guy,’ then a lot of people would be giving him the benefit of the doubt. But he’s not doing that! So he can make all the calls he wants.”
Cox chaired John McCain’s New York operation in 2008—which didn’t endear him to Giuliani, who was running for president at the same time—and Cox also helped Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a potential Democratic nominee, assemble his environmental transition team in 2006. The Daily News said Cox sounded “every bit the Democrat” when he praised Cuomo in ‘06:
“You are talking about coordinating federal [environmental] laws with state enforcement and with local enforcement, and I could not think of anyone better qualified to do that than General-elect Cuomo,” said Cox.
The biggest question, maybe, is why Cox would want the job. The Times reported the state G.O.P. only has three staffers and $140,000, so he won’t have much, initially, to help him go about the business of rebuilding.
On the bright side for Cox and the New York Republicans: Things can’t get much worse.
Giuliani still has the name recognition, and presumably, the party support to beat, say, Rick Lazio in a primary, but the fact that he couldn’t win over the county chairmen on a vote like this suggests there’s deep doubt he’ll actually run. Rather than drum up a Draft Rudy movement, Republicans seem to be making contingency plans.