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NY primary could be decisive, state GOP chief says

New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox,

New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, shown here on Jan. 6, 2015, in Albany, said on March 16, 2016, that the New York Republican presidential primary could be decisive in determining the party's nominee. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

New York’s Republican presidential primary -- often an afterthought in the chase for the White House – has a chance to be decisive this time around, state GOP chairman Ed Cox said Wednesday.

The focus on the April 19 primary is “our New Hampshire moment,” when all the focus is on one state, Cox said. With 95 delegates at stake, New York is the second-largest Republican primary remaining, next to California. Smaller states -- Arizona, Utah and Wisconsin -- hold the only primaries on the schedule before New York.

“I think New York will be a defining primary,” Cox said. “Donald Trump had a very big night [Tuesday], but he still does not have a majority. We anticipate all the candidates will be coming here to New York.”

Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination, scored significant wins in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois on Tuesday. Ohio Gov. John Kasich got his biggest boost of the campaign by winning his home state. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) appeared to finish just behind Trump in Missouri and picked up delegates to remain in second place.

But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) quit the race after losing to Trump by a large margin in his home state.

Trump now is trying to get the GOP to view him as the inevitable nominee. Cruz is saying he’s the lone Republican who can block Trump. Kasich is saying no one will secure a majority of delegates before the GOP convention this summer, and that he’s the only one who can beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton this fall.

“We have three very good candidates who will be going on three different lanes,” Cox said.

New York hasn’t been in play in the Republican primaries in a while. The last hotly contested primary was in 2000 when George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, beat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), 50 percent to 44 percent statewide.

The rules of the game are a bit different in New York’s primary with candidates vying for wins in each of the state’s 27 congressional districts rather than an overall statewide victory — win a district and get its three delegates. Of the remaining 14 delegates, 10 are “super delegates,” two are the state’s representatives to the national GOP committee, one is the state chairman and one is designated by the GOP-led state Senate.

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