Is Ed Cox the Manchurian Candidate? After reviewing the results from New York’s Republican primaries, you’d have to at least wonder if Cox, who is the Chairman of the New York State Republican Party, is a secret agent of the Democrats. Consider the following.
Cox backed Democrat Steve Levy for the Republican nomination for Governor. The state GOP convention ended with Rick Lazio as the party’s designee. Then Buffalo real estate developer Carl Palidino mounted a primary and Carl won the nomination by an almost two-to-one margin. To make the Republicans’ prospects for a November win even less likely, Lazio did hold on to the Conservative nomination and the Democrats named Andrew Cuomo as their candidate. Cuomo is the popular State Attorney General. Since his father was governor, he has an important political name. He also reportedly has a $25 million bankroll ready to spend on his candidacy.
Not only are the Republicans chances of winning the governor’s mansion slim, but the Conservative Party has to pull fifty-thousand votes for governor to continue to have a place on the ballot. After being in existence since 1962, the Conservative Party may soon cease to exist in New York. Is it any wonder the Conservatives paid for commercials endorsing Lazio in his Republican primary race against Paladino?
Similarly, the Republicans gave their party designation for the US Senate seat currently held by appointed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to Bruce Blakeman, a Manhattan lawyer and the former presiding officer of the Nassau County legislature. Blakeman finished third in the primary to Joe DioGuardi. Gillibrand was an unpopular choice within her own party when Governor David Patterson (who also wasn’t elected to the position he now holds) appointed her last year to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat when Clinton was named US Secretary of State.
DioGuardi seems like a fine guy and his daughter was a judge on American Idol, but he is 70-years old, he last served as a Congressman in 1989 and he’s run several unsuccessful campaigns for Congress since then. Despite national polls that suggest President Obama is unpopular and Republicans will probably score gains in both the House and Senate, if Mr. DioGuardi wins in November that will be counted as an upset too, a huge and very unlikely upset.
State GOP Chairman Cox couldn’t even deliver the Republican nomination for Congress on Long Island’s east end to his son, Christopher. Chris Cox finished third in a three-way race.
Democrats did cleanse themselves of two stains on their party’s ethical record. Hiram Monserat, expelled from the State Senate after being convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, and Pedro Espada, whose health-care clinic is under investigation, both failed in their efforts to get on Row A for the November election, but Cox and the Republicans didn’t have anything to do with that and the GOP is very unlikely to win those seats in November.
Congressman Charlie Rangel was renominated in New York City though, despite the fact that he faces trial in the House of Representatives on ethics violations. That should come as no surprise. Unless you are a North Korean Army veteran about Charlie’s age, if you’ve met the man, he has charmed you on a personal level. I know he charmed me when I met him many years ago. Plus, his opponents couldn’t agree, so five of them split the anti-Charlie vote, such as it is.
The economy is in the toilet. Most Americans think President Obama isn’t doing a good job of taking care of that. New York State Democrats had several scandals over the last two years too. National polls indicate Republicans will gain seats in both houses of the Congress, but on the state level in New York, this year looks pretty dismal for the GOP. And it’s worse than that.
Unless Republicans can retake the New York State Senate, now barely controlled by the Dems, one-party control in New York will extend not only to the state government, but also to the process of redistricting Assembly, State Senate, and Congressional seats. That redistricting will take place next year and if the Republicans in New York have no voice in that, they will have no voice in much of anything else in the Empire State for at least ten years.
Here are two possible scenarios that are ugly for someone. If Rick Lazio doesn’t actively campaign for governor and the Conservative Party doesn’t garner fifty-thousand votes in the gubernatorial election, no more Conservative Party. If Carl Paladino says something so outrageous that his campaign explodes or implodes, it’s at least theoretically possible that the Conservatives would finish second and the Republicans third. If that happens I’m sure the GOP will pull fifty-thousand votes and continue to be a political party, but if that happens, the party will also be relegated to line C rather than line B on voting machines statewide. Moreover, if the Republicans are no longer the second vote getters in New York’s governor’s race, they will no longer get any patronage from local boards of election throughout the state.
Is Ed Cox responsible for all of that? Certainly not. I don’t mean to imply it’s all his fault, but he can’t be held accountable for his role in it either. You see, the State Chairman of the Republican Party serves for a fixed term. So despite the disaster that is the New York GOP this year, unless Mr. Cox wants to leave office early, nobody can force him out until the end of his term.