From the Morning Memo:

President-elect Donald Trump is busy filling his cabinet and holding high-profile meetings at Trump Tower with all manner of visitors – including former football stars and rappers recovering from mental health breakdowns.

Apparently, however, he has still found at least a sliver of time to keep tabs on the politics of his home state, and is looking toward a possible regime change in 2018.

“He’s already called me,” state GOP Chair Ed Cox said of the president-elect. “We have talked about it, and he definitely has an interest in having a Republican governor in New York after 2018, and not Governor Cuomo.”

It would certainly benefit Trump at the state level to have a Republican ally in the executive mansion – especially in a Democrat-dominated state, where elected officials – from U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic minority leader, to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – have vowed to oppose the new administration on multiple fronts.

Former Gov. George Pataki, a frequent Trump critic who harbored his own White House aspirations that were never realized, was the last Republican to hold the office, and he left at the end of 2006 after serving three, four-year terms.

Cox suggested there’s a bigger picture reason the president-elect is already looking ahead; he sees an opportunity to stop potential rivals before the next presidential election.

“The New York State Republican party has a special mission going forward,” Cox said. “If you take a look at the Democratic party without the Clintons now, they’re on the sidelines. Obviously, Governor Cuomo’s thinking about 2020, and Mayor de Blasio…is thinking about 2020.”

The GOP chairman said the party will first focus on beating de Blasio when he seeks a second term next year, even though that’s a long shot in the overwhelmingly Democratic city.

The last Republican to win City Hall was Mike Bloomberg, who had switched his enrollment before his first run in 2001 from the Democratic Party to the GOP, and then later, (after he was safely in office), dropped major party affiliation altogether and became an independent.

Cox said that outside of the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races, there isn’t much to draw the attention away from the New York City mayor’s race next year.

“That is going to be a national race; we expect it to attract national attention,” the chairman said. “The polls for Mayor de Blasio are not that good, and we’ve got a good shot at winning that.”

(Actually, the latest poll found that while a majority of NYC voters don’t think de Blasio deserves re-election, he’s still trouncing all of his potential rivals, and the one who comes closest to beating him is a fellow Democrat – and erstwhile primary opponent – former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn).

Besides getting the mayor out of office and injuring a potential Democratic candidate for president, Cox said the 2017 campaign serves a third purpose – allowing the GOP to improve its standing in the five boroughs.

The chairman said he believes Cuomo was able to win re-election two years ago because his opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, only got 18 percent of the vote in New York City, though he carried almost all of upstate.

“If we build up momentum in New York City in 2017 and run a good race and defeat Mayor de Blasio, that carries over to 2018,” Cox said. “And if we do well in New York City, we win because we are going to have a tremendous victory outside of New York City. I have no doubt about that in 2018.”

Astorino is one of a handful of Republican candidates considering a run for governor in 2018. When asked about what Trump’s involvement would be in selecting, vetting or campaigning for candidates, Cox said it’s still too early to determine that.

After all, the president-elect hasn’t even served a single day of his own term yet.