From the Morning Memo:

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox yesterday touted soon-to-be-former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner as a potential Democratic primary challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year, saying he believes she is well positioned to take the governor on. 

“You have the former co-chair of the Democratic Party, who was the mayor of this city; she is a great candidate to take him on, and she’s saying, ‘Governor, you haven’t been doing the job,'” Cox told me during a CapTon interview from our Syracuse newsroom. 

When asked if he’s endorsing Miner’s potential candidacy, Cox replied: 

“I’m saying that she is a candidate who can really take (him) on from a position of being a former co-chair of the Democratic Party appointed by Cuomo, (who) is saying now, ‘Governor you didn’t do the job you should have done, and I’m going to take you on.’ That is formidable.”

To be clear, Cox is getting a little ahead of himself here.

Miner has not actually said she’ll be taking the governor on in 2018, but rather that she has been asked to do so and is thinking about it. So are several other of Cuomo’s fellow Democrats, including former Hudson Valley state Sen. Terry Gipson, and NYC-based actress Cynthia Nixon. 

The mayor, who is blocked by term limits from seeking re-election to her current post, has not been afraid to challenge Cuomo publicly on a range of topics, from infrastructure investments to pension reform.

That led to her resigning, (really, she didn’t have much choice), in April 2014 from the post of state Democratic Party co-chair, for which the governor tapped her two years earlier. 

Cox isn’t really doing Miner any favors here, and it’s unclear what his motivation might be – maybe he doesn’t really think she’s strong enough (from a money and name recognition standpoint) to take Cuomo on, and so is trying to tank her candidacy before it gets off the ground to make room for someone else? 

Getting praised by the state GOP chairman is something akin to a kiss of death for a would-be Democratic primary candidate, who would need to rally the sort of true believing liberal voters who tend to come in these sorts of intra-party battles. 

Cox again insisted that Cuomo is beatable next year in the general election, citing the downstate subway crisis that has eaten away at the governor’s approval ratings in his key base of NYC.

But the GOP is far from coalescing behind a candidate at this early date, through Cox did name drop Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in 2014; and also the 2010 Republican state comptroller contender Harry Wilson.