Publisher’s Corner: State GOP chairman is doing a great job in tough times

Legislative Gazette file photo
New York State Republican Committee Chairman Ed Cox, left, is holding down the fort in tough times, says Gazette Publisher Alan Chartock. His most difficult job may be finding viable candidates to take on popular New York Democrats.

With apologies to my many like-minded friends from the liberal left (a gaggle of which I am one), I want to make a confession — I really like and respect Ed Cox, New York’s head Republican. It is an unlikely friendship. After all, I don’t really agree with him about pretty much anything political except maybe the need for civil discourse. I certainly don’t agree with his half-hearted attempts to defend Donald Trump or his many right wing colleagues within the Republican Party. I don’t envy his status as Dick Nixon’s son-in-law, although I am fascinated by his tales about what life was like as a relative of the former president back in the day.

I certainly don’t envy the man who has to try to cobble together a group of Republican candidates to run against people like Kirsten Gillibrand or Andrew Cuomo, or who will have to try to preserve a Republican majority in the New York State Senate with the abetting and aiding of the already mentioned governor. But there he is, day after day, trying to put a good face on his unhappy situation and running a party on fumes with little or no talent to work with. In fact, I recently suggested that his choice of political pickings is so poor that he really owed it to the people of New York to run for governor himself. He laughed out loud and said that he would not do it. Frankly, I don’t blame him.

I love the guy because he is not afraid to come on public radio with me and duke it out over the issues of the day. He has a happy voice and he sounds Ike he is having a good time, no matter how much I try to bait him. At the end of our Capitol Connection program, he always says that he had fun and I truly respect him for that approach. I regularly hear from listeners who take me to great task for having him on the air on a regular basis. I try to explain to them that it is necessary in a democracy, to have political give-and-take, and to allow listeners to hear different perspectives. I tell them that fascists don’t ever want to hear the other side and almost to a person, they agree with that.

Right now, Ed Cox has to field a team to run that has almost no chance of winning office. There were some, like Marc Molinaro, who would have made good candidates but several have dropped out. Brian Kolb is a more-than-capable leader of the almost extinct Republicans in the heavily gerrymandered New York State Assembly. He seems to be the leading candidate to run against Cuomo for governor. He would seemingly have no chance of winning except that everything could change as the stench of corruption coming from the ongoing trials of Cuomo’s closest allies could upset his apple cart. Still, with Cuomo tacking left and attacking Donald Trump with great gusto, it’s hard to see how he can lose.

Nevertheless, the Republicans would be in far worse shape if they didn’t have Ed Cox at the helm. Cox is no patsy and he has been doing his job. If there are any chinks in the Democratic armor, Cox will point them out. In New York State where they play politics for keeps, it takes some guts to do that.

When Ed Cox does decide to call it quits, he will be given a lot of credit for holding down the fort in tough times. I know that I’ll miss him, a guy who plays his political hand with respect but not obsequiousness. In a time of Trumpian Republican politics, that’s no mean feat.