Ed Cox

Cox Blasts Cuomo’s Moreland ‘Meddling’

State Republican Chairman Ed Cox in a statement on Friday blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported involvement in the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption and drew attention to editorials from the three New York City dailies criticizing the end of the panel.

“Andrew Cuomo’s meddling corrupted his own corruption commission,” Cox said in the statement. “The Governor must reveal who in his office interfered with the Moreland Commission, how they did so and for what reasons.”

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has taken possession of the commission’s records generated during the investigation and on Thursday wouldn’t rule out looking into whether Cuomo’s office sought to direct or halt subpoenas to specific areas.

The commission is expected to conclude its work shortly after lawmakers and Cuomo agreed to a package of ethics reforms ranging from new anti-bribery and fraud laws to increased oversight at the state Board of Elections through the creation of an independent counsel to review campaign-finance violations.

The measures were included in the $138 billion spending plan approved March 31.

Cuomo has maintained the commission was always meant to look into legislative wrongdoing and was due to end its work when an agreement on an ethics package was struck.

The Times, Daily News and The Post all criticized the end of the commission in editorials on Friday.

Cox Suggests Public Financing Program Is Political Payback

New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox on Monday suggested the creation of publicly funded campaign system for only the state comptroller’s race was based on some sort of political payback by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cox, in a statement released by the state GOP, pointed to DiNapoli questioning whether Cuomo’s budget proposal was balanced without one-shot revenue sources as well as the surplus.

“After Comptroller DiNapoli did his job by pointing out that the Governor’s sham projected budget surplus is actually a $3.4 billion deficit, and that the Governor used $700 million in one-shot budget gimmicks to balance the budget this year, Andrew Cuomo responded by subjecting Comptroller DiNapoli to public campaign finance,” Cox said in a statement. “Public campaign finance advocates promise heaven but deliver hell: look no further than New York City, where a political Campaign Finance Board cleared the Democratic primary field for Bill de Blasio by arbitrarily denying matching funds to John Liu and Bill Thompson.”

There’s no direct evidence to suggest this was the case, and a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told Liz that the finalized agreement on public financing was the result of four-way budget talks.

DiNapoli announced on Sunday he will not opt in to the public financing system created in the budget plan.

A spokesman for Cuomo pointed out this morning that DiNapoli had backed a pilot program for the state comptroller’s race to include a public matching system.

Still, there is little love lost between Cuomo and DiNapoli, whose political relationship has been fraught for the last several years.

Langworthy Calls For Party Unity Following Trump’s Exit

It was an unmistakable condition of his candidacy: no primary.  While Donald Trump’s flirtation with a run for Governor came to an end Friday his call for a united Republican Party did not.

“He wanted the nomination without a primary.  I think many party leaders around the state are in the same boat. They don’t want to see a primary,” said Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy.

The effort to convince Trump to run for Governor began in Western New York last summer.  Langworthy himself held several meetings with the real estate mogul encouraging him to see the process through all the way to the State Republican Party Convention in May.

“I think he was confusing to some extent the way we nominate in New York for somewhat of a presidential primary system. They’re very, very different. New Yorkhas very arcane ways to nominate our candidates and as he got more educated in that process he gave serious, serious consideration in the last two weeks and going to the convention,” Langworthy said.

When Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino officially entered the race it seemed to have little impact on Trump’s candidacy.  But after Astorino’s week long tour of the state Langworthy believes Trump concluded a “clear path” was impossible.

“I think he came to a realization that this would not be an uncontested nomination fight. He thought a primary was inevitable and right from the beginning he said, ‘I don’t want a primary,” said Langworthy. 

Still some Trump supporters are pointing the finger at State GOP Chairman Ed Cox.  One of the State Assemblyman who helped hatch the “Draft Trump” movement believes his exit makes Cox a marked man.

“It’s disappointing that the Republican Party is so inept in New York State. We will support Rob Astorino. This is Mr. Cox’s play, this is what he wanted, and if Astorino doesn’t win for some reason, Mr. Cox will have to answer to that,” said East Aurora Republican David DiPietro. 

Langworthy admits the initial skepticism from the “senior party leadership” about Trump’s sincerity may have turned the real estate mogul off.  But he believes Cox had come around to the idea of a Trump candidacy and was encouraging him to go to the convention.

“Ultimately the decision was going to lie with Donald Trump whether or not he was going to run for Governor. He’s a super successful businessman, someone that’s achieved a lot of his goals in life. If he wanted to move forward with this, I think we showed him a way where he could’ve achieved it,” Langworthy said. 

With Trump seemingly out of the way, there’s just one unresolved issue.  Former Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino’s threat to run for Governor on a fourth party line could derail any plans for party unity.  

“Really as Republicans, we’re down 3-million votes in New York State. We haven’t won since 2002 statewide. If we’re going to fight amongst ourselves we’re not going to have an opportunity to win the election,” said Langworthy.   

Ironically it was a primary challenge Langworthy helped author in 2010 that made Paladino a statewide figure, and Langworhty a rising star in the party.  Now, it appears, Langworthy will have the unenviable task of asking Paladino to stand down, and get behind the party prefered candidate.

“I would hope Carl could find a way to unite behind the Republican nominee and help us win the election. He’s a dear friend of mine. I know that he desperately wants to see a change in leadership in this state and he definitely wants to see Andrew Cuomo replaced as Governor,” Langworthy added.


Paladino On Trump: ‘He’s Running’

Despite what appears to be a new effort to convince Carl Paladino to run for New York Comptroller the Buffalo Businessman says he has one focus right now.

“Getting Donald Trump to run for governor,” Paladino said.

The 2010 Republican Gubernatorial Candidate told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen, Tuesday night, he believes recent public comments by State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long are designed to put pressure on Trump.

“What they’re doing right now is playing cards. So Astorino and Cox and Mike Long, they’ve come out and they’ve said ‘Trump, make up your mind and tell us what you’re going to do.’  And I would expect that Mr. Trump is going to come out and say it very soon. He’s going to say that he’s running,” said Paladino.

It’s not just Trump’s potential competition that seems to be getting antsy.  Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy is hoping to get some answers during an afternoon meeting with Trump, Wednesday in Manhattan.

“I guess what we’re looking for is a signal from Mr. Trump. Is he going to take those next steps and move ahead with this or not?” Langworthy asked.

Langworthy will join several other county republican chairs and the two Western New York State Assemblymen who came up with the “Draft Trump” idea at Trump Tower.  He expects others at the meeting to ask similar questions.

“The ball’s in Mr. Trump’s court on how serious he’s going to take this process. I mean is he going to take some tangible steps forward?”

Gaining Nick Langworthy’s support has seemed more important this election cycle than ever before.  Following Paladino’s successful primary win over Rick Lazio, Buffalo has been an important area for anyone considering a run for governor.

Langworthy’s committee has hosted both Astorino and Trump at fundraising events in the last few months.  Langworthy helped author Paladino’s successful primary bid four years ago but has no interest in a primary this time around.

“We’re into February and it’s time that we start rounding out our ticket. We ultimately will nominate candidates in May, but we have to recruit candidates for Comptroller and Attorney General for the state.  So it’s important we get clarity at the top of the ticket,” Langworthy said.

Paladino, who will not be attending Wednesday’s meeting, says Trump will not bend to what he called pressure from Mike Long, Dean Skelos, or anybody else.

“He’ll make his statement when he’s ready and I admire him for that. Donald Trump will demolish Andrew Cuomo. He’ll demolish people like Dean Skelos,” said Paladino.

As for Paladino’s future he declined to comment on speculation he’ll challenge Astorino on the Conservative Party Line if Trump drops out.  He also dismissed the effort to convince him to run for Comptroller, for now.

“They’re trying to divert my attention from Trump. I’ve been working really hard on getting Donald Trump to run for this and I feel very sincerely that he will. (I have) laser focus.  We’re doing it. We’re bringing all these county chairs there tomorrow and it’s going to be a nice conclave they’re going to have there in New York,” Paladino added.

Another Meeting With Trump Scheduled For Wednesday

Republican leaders will make another attempt Wednesday to convince real estate mogul Donald Trump to run for governor.  Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy wouldn’t describe the nature of the meeting but confirmed he will be among the “various county chairs” attending.

State Assemblyman David DiPietro, who will also be in Manhattan for the meeting, told Time Warner Cable News Buffalo the meeting is another step in the process for Trump.  It’s a process that saw Trump speaking before a sold out crowd of Western NY Republicans in Depew late last month.

DiPietro and State Assemblyman Bill Nojay hatched the “Draft Trump” movement this past summer during a dinner meeting.  Trump has said he would only run if the party unites, meaning Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and State GOP Chairman Ed Cox would have to get behind him.

Astorino has not officially announced, but he recently formed an exploratory committee.  The top Republican in the State Senate said, Monday, Astorino will run for Governor and that he believes Trump was never serious about making a run.

Buffalo Businessman Carl Paladino is still considering a run for governor on the Conservative line if Trump doesn’t run.

Astorino Opening Exploratory Committee, Staffing Up for Possible Gov Run (Updatedx2)

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is taking yet another step closer to a full blown challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by opening an exploratory committee and poaching a staffer from the state GOP to run it.

Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud confirmed the formation of the exploratory committee, which is expected to be complete by the end of the week. She also said state GOP Executive Director Michael Lawler will be departing his party post to head up the committee on Astorino’s behalf.

“He is taking the appropriate steps to prepare for a statewide campaign,” Proud said of Astorino.

Lawler, a Rockland County native, started working for the state GOP in Noevmber 2009 as a member of its field staff, and then served as political director from July 2011 until his appointment as executive director in December of that same year.

He worked on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential run, and also played a role in the surprise victory of former GOP Rep. Bob Turner in the September 2011 special election for former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Brooklyn/Queens seat. (Turner subsequently ran in a there-way GOP primary for the right to challenge Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2012 general election and lost).

Astorino’s selection of Lawler will no doubt raise a few eyebrows inside the state GOP, since it further solidifies the belief that the county executive is state Party Chairman Ed Cox’s favored candidate. He’s also not universally liked among the GOP rank-and-file, having rubbed a few people the wrong way with his aggressive approach.

The chairman isn’t technically supposed to play favorites in a potential primary situation, but he certainly has done so in the past – think back to the 2010 campaign when he wooed Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy into the race to challenge former Rep. Rick Lazio. Levy failed to get onto the ballot at the convention, and Lazio was subsequently defeated in a primary by Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

Proud said that Lawler’s hiring had nothing to do with his relationship with Cox, insiting that Astorino “has known Mike for a long time and really respects him as a talented hardworking guy knows the state really well.”

“We need someone right now to be responsible for day-to-day organization, and Mike is someone that would be great at that,” Proud added.

Proud could not provide an exact start date for Lawler, who did not respond to an email seeking comment. His new job will likely coincide with the formal formation of Astorino’s exploratory committee.

While Astorino has not yet formally announced his candidacy, he has made a number of clear indications that he is highly likely to run – regardless of the fact that Paladino, the 2010 GOP/Conservative gubernatorial candidate, has threatened to challenge him on the Conservative Party, effectively splitting votes on the right and making a long-shot change of ousting the popular and well-funded incumbent governor all the more difficult.

Astorino is also apparently not buying Donald Trump’s pledge that he will run for governor and unite the Republican and Conservative parties if only the party leaders unite behind him and promise he will not have to fight for the nomination.

UPDATE: According to Capital NY’s Jimmy Vielkind, county chairs will be getting the news about Lawler during a 4 p.m. conference call this afternoon. Other staffing changes are in the mix, too. According to one GOP operative, it’s possible that Jason Weingartner, currently the finance director, will be promoted to take Lawler’s place.

UPDATE2: The state GOP put out an announcement confirming that Weingartner will indeed be the new executive director. Also, the party’s Coalitions Director Ore Jacinto will be the new finance director and Asian Outreach Director Oliver Tan will take over as coalitions director.

Trump Wants A Clear Path To GOP Nomination Now

Donald Trump told an enthusiastic Western New York crowd Friday night that he’s leaving the door open to a possible run for governor. 

But, given the conditions he has laid out for the state Repiblican Party, it appears that door is closing quickly.

Trump was the featured guest at a fundraising dinner for the Erie County Republican Committee in Depew. With state GOP Chairman Ed Cox sitting in the audience, Trump took the podium and criticized him.

“You need strong leadership and honestly you don’t have that strong leadership right now. You don’t have that at the top, top level,” Trump said. 

Trump has made it clear he wants no part of a potential GOP primary with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. 

Before Trump’s 757 even touched down he told Bob McCarthy of the Buffalo News if Astorino doesn’t bow out soon he’ll move on

Trump supporters, including Buffalo Businessman Carl Paladino, had been calling on Cox to pressure all the potential candidates to get behind whoever emerges from the convention. 

For Trump it now appears that’s not good enough.   

“I want to see a unified party. You see the kind of response we have today. I want to see a unified party. If we have a unified party I will do it,” said Trump.

Trump did spend most of his 30 minute speech critiquing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership. Trump called New York the highest taxed and most anti-business state in the union. 

The real estate mogul-turned reality TV star said that if he’s elected he would support hydrofracking and Second Amendment rights.

“They want to take away your guns with the SAFE Act which I call the UnSAFE Act, which is one of the great catastrophes,” said Trump.

Despite the “Buffalo Billion” and a clear focus on Western New York in his first term, Trump accused Cuomo of only paying attention to the region around election time. He described most of the planned development as promises that won’t be kept.

“Buffalo is suffering badly. It’s failing. It’s not going to be here for very long and Buffalois really emblematic of what’s wrong with the state,” Trump added.

Despite Trump’s ultimatum for a clear path to the GOP nomination the state party chair seemed unfazed. 

Cox told the Buffalo News after Trump’s speech that the party has two good candidates.

Trump: ‘I’m The Only One That Can Win’

On the eve of his much anticipated visit to Western New York potential gubernatorial candidate Donald Trump continued to pressure state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to get behind him, or get out of his way.

Trump told WBEN’s Tom Bauerle Thursday Night that a Republican Primary would only work in Governor Cuomo’s favor.

“I do believe I’m the only one that can win. I believe I will win, but they’ve got to get behind me. I don’t want to fight someone who has no chance of winning and then get the nomination and you’re wounded. Because it’s going to be a very tough election,” Trump said.

Trump will appear at a sold out fundraiser for the Erie County Republican Committee Friday Night in Depew. Western New York has become a priority for any potential GOP contender.

It’s where Buffalo Businessman Carl Paladino launched a successful challenge to the party endorsed gubernatorial candidate in 2010.  Paladino fell to Cuomo in the general election.

“He was hurt badly by the lack of cohesion and by Ed Cox and all these characters are doing things up there,” said Trump.

Trump believes history is repeating itself.   

“How would you like to be running as a Carl Paladino, and you have a chairman – the head of the party – who tries to draft a Democrat, who tries to take someone from another party and pit them against you? And I thought that was so terrible and essentially the same thing is happening right now,” Trump said.

The Western New York Republicans that hatched the “Draft Trump” movement are calling on Cox to call on all interested parties to abide by the choice of the convention. 

Trump didn’t mention Astorino specifically but implied there are those more interested in raising their profile than defeating Governor Cuomo.

“What I don’t want is to go through a primary with people who have no chance of winning, that maybe want to build themselves up.  If they want to build themselves up that’s fine.  Good luck to them.  But they’re not going to win,” said Trump

Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy is expecting more than 600 people for Friday’s reception. 

Langworthy, who hosted Astorino in Buffalo in December, admits Trump’s celebrity status gives this event a different feel.

“It’s created a tremendous amount of buzz here inWestern New York.   A lot of people are talking about this event and you don’t run into anyone who doesn’t know the name Donald Trump,” Langworthy said.

It’s a buzz that Trump hopes sends a clear message to Cox and Astorino.

“I won’t use names but if he (Langworthy) had the same kind of event for someone else, or some other people, there would be no one there.  It would be like death,” Trump added.

Paladino Calls On Cox To Let the Convention Decide It

Just days after a two hour dinner meeting with Donald Trump inNew York City, Buffalo business man and 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is giving State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox a new ultimatum. 

Paladino has been pressuring Cox and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to step aside and unite behind the only man he thinks can beat Andrew Cuomo, Donald Trump.  Paladino believes he’s responsible for what he described as Cox’s sudden change of heart on Trump.

“For two months he’s been endorsing Astorino, saying, ‘He’s running. He’s running. He’s running.’ He’s been endorsing him. Now he’s stepping back from his comments. Good for him,” Paladino said. 

Paladino was one of a handful of Upstate Republicans who took part in a two hour dinner meeting with Trump earlier this week. Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy and the two men who came up with the idea to “draft Trump,” State Assemblymen Bill Nojay and David DiPietro were also there. 

“We had a very enjoyable dinner and I’m very hopeful that we might have a candidate for the Republican Party,” Paladino said. 

Trump has recently said he would run but not if he has to take part in a primary. Despite sounding more open to a possible Trump candidacy, Cox has made it clear he has no intention of throwing his support behind any candidate before the convention.

Wednesday night, Paladino told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen, if Cox won’t clear the way for Trump, he should ask every potential candidate to unite behind the Republican who emerges at the convention.

“And once that candidate is chosen, the other candidates should lay down and go home peacefully. That will bring about party unity and by that time I think most of the RINO’s will have gone and backed Cuomo as they’ve been doing,” Paladino added. 

Speaking of those Paladino considers Republicans In Name Only, he continued to criticize the State Senate’s top Republican, Dean Skelos. Paladino believes the outcome of the convention may cause Skelos to endorse Governor Cuomo.

“All his godfathers are backing Cuomo. That’s interesting isn’t it?  Even the county executive of his home county is backing Cuomo,” Paladino added.

Cuomo and the GOP

He didn’t want to talk about it on the record, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying win over Republicans and made his pitch behind closed doors at The Harvard Club in Manhattan Thursday. What’s that Japanese word that means not only disaster, but also opportunity??? Might be appropriate here ( assuming any of us spoke Japanese ). Republicans appear fractious at the moment, and that gives the governor an in.

But sources say this was not an isolated incident. For more than a year the governor has been trying to avoid a serious challenge from the GOP in his re-election bid. Cuomo has personally been reaching out to prominent GOP donors and potential Republican candidate Rob Astorino to discourage them from mounting a challenge. He has even asked Republican state Chairman Ed Cox for a sit-down, and has gone so far as to promise Republicans to help keep the Senate under Republican control.

He does not want the Westchester County executive in the race, and has made no secret of this to the GOP privately.

Since he is a sitting governor, Cuomo has found some receptivity to his overtures. Meaning they will listen. But when it comes time to actually acquiesce, the Republicans must decline. Even with a promise to help maintain control of the Senate, Republicans fear their seats in the upper house will be in more jeopardy if they don’t have someone strong at the top of the ticket.

Needless to say, sources say the governor doesn’t like this answer. One even described him as having a “glass jaw.”

Yesterday, Cox told me on the record that Cuomo and his people were being “bullies” in trying to get Republicans and local electeds to stand down and back him for re-election. Privately, others say Cuomo holds events around the state so he can sprinkle goodies on the locals and expects Republican leaders to attend.

A source close to the governor calls all of this “completely untrue.”

But the bottom line is this: Cuomo has plenty of money – more than $33 million in the war chest. But he doesn’t necessarily want to spend it, and would prefer to avoid a competitive race, according to those familiar with his efforts to woo Republicans. As one insider put it,

“He is trying to intimidate people in New York State. Similar to the guy across the Hudson.”