CAPITAL REGION -- Republican Party chairmen in two local counties have endorsed Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy in his challenge to Ed Cox for state party leader.
Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman Carl Zeilman endorsed Langworthy on Saturday, and the Schenectady County GOP Chairman Chris Koetzle gave his endorsement on Monday. Fulton County Republican Chairwoman Susan McNeil had previously endorsed Langworthy.
"I've spent a lot of time talking to Nick over the last couple of weeks, and I'm impressed with him, and I think he is the right leader at this time," Koetzle said.
Langworthy is challenging state GOP Chairman Cox, of New York City, who has held the post for nearly a decade. It is a challenge across generational lines, as well as one likely to display an upstate-downstate divide within the GOP over who should lead the party.
Langworthy officially announced his challenge over the weekend, though it has been expected for weeks. The actual selection of a party chairman will come this summer as a state convention.
"His leadership at the local and state level has inspired Republicans across New York," Zeilman said. "From building local campaign infrastructure to raising millions of dollars for candidates, Nick Langworthy brings the experience and network we need to revitalize our party across this state. I proudly endorse Nick Langworthy, and look forward to working with him to elect strong leaders up and down the ballot.”
"I think he will reach out to new voters, especially young voters," Koetzle said. "While the Democrats are presenting a radical-left agenda, Republicans are standing up for the middle-class New Yorker, and and I think Nick is the right guy to deliver that message ... I just think he and I share that vision of trying to diversify the voter base."
Langworthy, 38, has chaired the Erie County Republican Committee for the last nine years, having been elected at the age of 29. During his tenure, the Republicans have won county offices, even though Democrats have a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage in Erie County, which includes Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs.
Cox, 72, is a lawyer best-known for being the son-in-law of President Richard M. Nixon. He has been the state party chairman since 2009. But dissatisfaction has grown in recent years as the party has lost statewide influence, and then last November the GOP lost control of the state Senate for the first time in a decade, giving Democrats control of the governorship and both houses of the Legislature and a freer hand in approving long-held policy goals.
Langworthy said he welcomed the local county endorsements.
"At this critical time, it is vital that the Republican Party stand strong and unified across New York state. The values our party stands for are now relevant more than ever, and it is our responsibility to elevate taxpayer-first candidates to all levels of government. That is exactly why we must rebuild, retool, and revitalize the Republican Party in the state of New York," Langworthy said.
Cox, however, has significant support downstate.
Westchester County Chairman Doug Colety on Monday endorsed Cox for re-election, and party leaders in Nassau and Suffolk counties also offered their support on Monday.
"Under Chairman Cox’s leadership, the State Committee has raised over $52 million and developed a strong local assistance program that has helped us in races all across the state, and right here in Westchester County," Colety said. "Chairman Cox has been dedicated to serving our party as a full-time chairman, taking no salary, donating his own personal resources, and leveraging his national relationships to help strengthen our party."