Once again, state Republican chairman Ed Cox seems to be inviting contenders to sign up for consideration for a big GOP nomination. In 2010, he was pushing then-Suffolk Executive Steve Levy to be considered by registered party members, enraging candidate Rick Lazio, who lost a primary to Carl Paladino, who proved famously angry, dark, and undisciplined and lost decisively to Democrat Andrew Cuomo. But Cox always had the underlying, palpably mature rationale that reaching out and including others in an open process was a healthy thing.
With the NYC mayoral race on the horizon, Celeste Katz of the News reports that Cox is excited about getting AR Bernard, a well-known Brooklyn minister, into the fray, praising him as an exciting speaker with good ideas. That of course gets the buzz going that Joe Lhota -- seen on the party landscape as the candidate of the small but still-tight Rudy Giuliani faction -- is getting rebuffed by Cox to the degree that the chairman is not clearing the field for the former MTA chairman and deputy mayor.
Four background matters of note:
Back when Cox was running to replace Nassau's Joe Mondello as state party leader, Rudy's man Jake Menges — involved with the Lhota effort now — was known to be making calls on behalf of a competing chairman candidate.
And yet, interestingly, when Giuliani appeared over the summer before the New York delegation to the Republican National Convention, he praised Cox's efforts in state party-building — so strongly that some Mondello loyalists took the ex-mayor's words as a direct diss to Mondello, Cox's state predecessor.
In 2008, Cox, with the help of some disaffected ex-Giuliani allies, led the John McCain effort in New York — all through Giuliani's ill-fated candidacy, at a time when Mondello & Co. wanted their New York favorite son at the top of that year's ticket.
John Catsimatidis, billionaire supermarket businessman, and big political contributor, has filed as a possible GOP candidate for mayor. His daughter, by the way, is married to Cox's son.
Intra-GOP dissension seems to be all the rage these days. Others are interested in the GOP nomination as well. All this is still unfolding.