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Long IslandPolitics

State GOP head Cox stays a bit outside the box

If the typical thinking of the moment proves true, and Rick Lazio loses to Andrew Cuomo for governor, then the other conventional wisdom, surrounding GOP chairman Edward Cox, could prove false - and make Cox look prescient.

Last week's standard pundit-chatter went that Cox oversaw an exercise in division and futility when the GOP convened in Manhattan. His proposed candidate for governor, Steve Levy, failed to make the ballot. His party's U.S. Senate picks clashed with the Conservatives, threatening a split on the right. "No confidence" moves were rumored - though notably, they never materialized.

If Lazio defies expectations and becomes governor, he'd earn the clout to boot Cox, whose term ends in September 2011. But Republicans did lose their statewide power posts well before Cox was chairman.

Cox has always lived a bit outside the box. He was a Nader Raider who married Richard Nixon's daughter, a John McCain man in Rudy Giuliani's New York - and a Republican who served on Democrat Cuomo's AG transition team.

QUICK QUESTS: Gov. David A. Paterson quit the governor's campaign in February - less than a week after announcing. He was jammed up over his intervention in a domestic-violence dispute - a matter still under investigation by ex-chief state judge Judith Kaye. His candidacy lasted from a Saturday to the following Friday.

But the record for short state campaigns? Not Paterson's. Last Tuesday, rookie Nassau Comptroller George Maragos fell out of the running for U.S. Senate. He'd jumped in the previous Thursday. Maragos' turnaround, though, was scandal-free; he simply fell seven percentage points short in the GOP convention vote to qualify for a primary.

FAMILY OF NEW YORK: Has third-party influence slumped? Such mainstream Democrats as Cuomo and state Sen. Craig Johnson distance themselves from the Working Families Party. Independence Party money comes up in a DA's probe related to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign. And, Conservative Party leadership is alienated from the GOP leadership.

QUIP OF THE WEEK: Former state senator and ex-state Homeland Security secretary Michael Balboni says he's mesmerized by the constant live video feed of the Gulf oil spill. At an emergency-management conference in Melville last week, he called it "the Yule Log of incompetence."

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