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McKinstry: Don't count New York Republicans out of the GOP convention

New York State Senator Dean Skelos speaks during

New York State Senator Dean Skelos speaks during the New York State Republican Party Delegation's breakfast at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort in Clearwater, FL. (Aug. 27, 2012) (Credit: newsday Thomas A. Ferrara)

New York's electoral votes may not be in play, but don’t tell the state Republican Party or any of its members who are camped out in Clearwater during the Republican National Convention.

They still matter.

The state is home to the national media, intellectual and cultural centers, ethnic coalitions and that vital lifeblood in politics: Money.

And with so much of it being spent on television ads – obvious if you turn on the tube down here, since Florida is a swing state – that relevance can’t be overstated.

“We are the most important non-swing state,” Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, told me earlier this morning before the delegation breakfast. “We’re part of a great national campaign that is going to elect Mitt Romney as president of the United States.”

With the threat of Hurricane Isaac looming somewhere off the Gulf of Mexico, convention plans have changed and New York Republicans this morning sharpened their jobs-and-taxes message over breakfast at the Hilton Clearwater Beach – about 45 minutes away from the main show, which was canceled today.

They also honored State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who took a few shots at Democrats -- notably Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand who is the clear front-runner in her re-election bid against Republican Wendy Long.

There are 5.2 million registered Democrats in New York and 2.7 million Republicans, making the state a sure-thing for President Barack Obama and the Dems. But Republicans maintain they have a lot of other vital intangibles, including the party's and organization.

The delegation is the third largest behind Texas and California. There are 95 delegates, over 90 alternates and about 450 people total down here. They may not have great real estate on the convention floor, but they’ll have a lot of it. Their presence will be felt.

Since the state party is a “well-oiled machine,” Westchester County Chairman Doug Colety said it also has the foot soldiers to deliver to vital swing states Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire and others.

“The delegation will work in other states,” Colety said after the breakfast. Volunteers will be deployed as needed, he said.

The way Rockland County Committee Chairman Vinny Reda sees it, the party has a lot of rising stars like Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino that could be an asset to a Romney administration.

So New Yorkers may not deliver their 29 electoral votes for Romney, but they’ve got other resources that Romney and the Republicans around the country need. Don't count them out just yet.

Pictured above : New York State Senator Dean Skelos speaks during the New York State Republican Party Delegation's breakfast at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort in Clearwater, FL. (Aug. 27, 2012)

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