Here’s an advance copy of the speech state GOP Chairman Ed Cox will deliver tonight before oil and gas industry executives at the IOGA conference in Buffalo. The chairman is using this speech to set the 2014 stage, making the case against Cuomo on a number of fronts, including the fact that he has not greenlighted fracking in the Marcellus Shale.

Cox is pointing to GOP victories yesterday in local races outside New York City – particularly Nassau, Westchester and Erie counties – as proof that the Republican brand is not yet dead in New York and a credible candidate (who has not yet emerged) could perhaps successfully challenge the governor, despite his strong poll number and full-to-bursting campaign coffers, not to mention the power of incumbency and considerable enrollment edge enjoyed by Democrats in this state.

The chairman doles out a lot of red meat in this speech, accusing Cuomo of lacking the “political guts to permit the development of New York’s rich hydrocarbons” and too afraid of the environmentalists (“Luddites” in the eyes of Cox, who sits on the NYLCV Board) to say “yes” to fracking.

Cox hits Cuomo on other fronts, too, slamming the “unwieldy” Moreland Commission, for which the governor opted over appointing a special prosecutor to investigate corruption in the Legislature; and throwing his initial tax commission “under the bus” by creating a duplicate commission that is “all but guaranteed to net him some positive press ahead of his re-election bid.”

I spoke to Cox in advance of his speech for a CapTon interview that will air tonight at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. He continued to insist that the GOP will have a strong challenger to Cuomo in 2014, though he again refused to name any names, and was dismissive when I noted that whoever this person is would probably be smart to get out ASAP to start raising campaign cash and build name recognition.

Also, Cuomo was support to hold a fund-raiser tonight in Buffalo right across the way from the IOGA event. But he has since called off that event, rescheduling it for a yet-undetermined location on Nov. 19.

In anticiptation of Cox’s speech, Julia Walsh, spokesperson for New Yorkers Against Fracking and Frack Action, sent the following statement:

“Gas industry insider Ed Cox is lying to New Yorkers about the dangers of fracking and denying the science, which shows that fracking poisons our water, pollutes the air and makes people sick.”

“As a long-term board member of a gas corporation with significant fracking interests, it’s no surprise that Ed Cox is lobbying for the gas industry and denying the harm fracking would do to New Yorkers. Rather than stand with the gas industry, our elected officials – Democrats AND Republicans – should stand with the growing numbers of New Yorkers who recognize that the science and facts show that the costs of fracking are just too high.”

Cox is a member of Noble Energy’s Board of Directors.

We also received this from the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter’s Roger Downs:

“Tonight’s speech shows how out of touch Ed Cox is with NY voters. Poll after poll demonstrates that New Yorkers are increasingly opposed to fracking and understand the economic downside of drilling is as severe as the threat to public health and safety.”

“…Governor Cuomo, in his deliberation of the pros and cons of fracking, has sided with precaution. If Cox intends to draw out the overplayed analogy of Cuomo as a handwringing Hamlet – then he is most certainly aspiring to play the role of Richard the III.”

“After driving the party of Theodore Roosevelt into the ground, Cox is now pandering to a defeated oil and gas industry in New York. One has to wonder if he is really thinks this move will help his party or is he just cashing in with the frackers, like a defeated despot willing to wager his kingdom for a horse.”

State GOP Ed Cox IOGA keynote speech, Buffalo, Nov. 6, 2013 by liz_benjamin6490