Mitt Romney's top NY donors among RNC delegation
WASHINGTON -- The nearly 400-member New York delegation to the Republican Convention in Tampa, Fla., can't promise it will deliver the state's 29 electoral votes to Mitt Romney, but it can talk about a different asset it brings to the party: money.
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Delegates began arriving in southern Florida over the weekend, with a wary eye on Tropical Storm Isaac, for the four-day convention, a highly choreographed meeting to launch presumptive nominee Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), into the fall election campaign.
New York has one of the biggest delegations, with 95 delegates, and an equal number of alternates.
But its influence is limited by the state's Democratic dominance and an expected majority vote for President Barack Obama on Nov. 6. New York delegates also tend to be more moderate than those in other parts of the country, but even within New York there are conservatives, particularly in the north and west.
The delegates include big names such as former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a failed presidential hopeful and keynote speaker at the 2008 GOP convention; former Gov. George Pataki; and former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.
They also include state officials, such as State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre); and county and party executives, including Mondello and Suffolk County GOP chair John Jay LaValle.
The well-connected also are among at-large delegates chosen by the state committee: Cox's daughter-in-law, Andrea Catsimatidis Cox; political veteran Georgette Mosbacher; and Adele Malpass, wife of failed U.S. Senate hopeful David Malpass, an elected delegate.
Cox said among delegates also are up-and-coming leaders and a volunteer from Harlem.
Rep. Peter King of Seaford said he will attend, but others holding or seeking public office, such as Wendy Long, who is challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, will stay home to campaign.
But it's the big money donors who'll be in demand in Tampa.
None will be bigger than David Koch, the New York City industrialist who with his brother Charles are involved in a plan to spend as much as $400 million through nonprofits such as their Americans for Prosperity to defeat Obama.
Koch, who this year hosted a Romney fundraiser in the Hamptons, likely will be the only delegate to arrive while being attacked in a $500,000 cable-TV ad campaign, produced by the liberal group Patriot Majority and funded by labor unions.
Others donor delegates include Jets owner Woody Johnson, Mill Neck hedge fund manager David Knott and his wife, Virginia, and Matthew Mellon of the banking fortune.
"Down there we are going to interact with a lot of people that are going to want to have our assets for their candidates," Cox said of other delegations.
"They'll come to us," he said, "and say, 'Look, can you help us with this? Can you help us with that?' "
Smithtown Republican chairman Bill Ellis said he hopes to do the same, seeking out help for the repeat challenge by St. James businessman Randy Altschuler to Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton).
Money helps pave the way for the New York delegates who are more moderate and pragmatic in a party that's moved South and West -- and to the ideological right.
Asked how the rest of the GOP views the Northeast, Mondello said, "I think they wish we weren't here."
He explained, "I'm a moderate Republican, and there are some people that are very conservative. And their views are somewhat different from mine."