A score or so of Suffolk Republicans - including the chairmen of the 10 GOP town parties - gave local favorite Edward Cox a symbolic vote of confidence Thursday in his bid to become chairman of the state party.
"This endorsement means a lot to me, as a native son of Suffolk County," Cox, a resident of Westhampton, told supporters during a news conference at the Town of Brookhaven Republican Headquarters in Medford.
The chairs of at least 25 county GOP parties have publicly backed Cox, a son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon, over the current chairman, Joseph Mondello, who also heads the Nassau GOP. State GOP officials said a vote for the chairmanship could be conducted next month.
After the event, Cox declined to criticize Mondello, and said "we're well into" getting more than 40 percent of the weighted state committee vote.
But the Suffolk session was not a formal endorsement of the Suffolk Party, just a statement of support from individual leaders, several Republican officials said.
The chairman of the party in Niagara County, Henry Wojtaszek, said earlier this week that he also planned to run for the state post. Wojtaszek's voice mail was not accepting messages Thursday and he did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Cox told his Suffolk supporters that his first campaign in the county was Nixon's last campaign, the 1972 presidential race in which Nixon thumped Democrat George McGovern.
"In 1972, we won 70 percent of the vote, 70 percent of the vote. And my friends, some good hard work, some organization, some good funding and we're going to sweep Suffolk County again," Cox said.
"They have an unelected comptroller because of financial corruption," Cox said of state Democrats.
"They have an unelected governor because of moral corruption. And the worst is the fiscal corruption of ever-increasing budgets, ever increasing taxes at a time when we're going into a recession and people are getting laid off their jobs," he said.
Mondello's usual spokesman, Anthony Santino, referred questions for comment to the state GOP. Matthew Walter, executive director of the state party, did not return a telephone call for comment.
With Dan Janison