ALBANY — New York Republicans began their transition into a new era Tuesday, as Nick Langworthy was introduced as the GOP’s incoming leader, taking over from Ed Cox after the party suffered big losses in 2018.
Langworthy, of Erie County, promised the party would “show a renewed fighting spirit” following last year’s “tremendous setback.”
At 38, Langworthy will become the youngest New York Republican chairman in history. He vowed to bring new energy to the party, boost enrollment and win back the State Senate next year. He said his goal is to put a Republican back in the Executive Mansion in Albany, which Democrats have held for 13 years. It will be a challenging to-do list in a state that increasingly has gone Democratic.
“I think we’re going to show a renewed fighting spirit after we move forward with this reorganization,” Langworthy said, referring to a formal vote of the Republican State Committee, scheduled for July. “You know, we had a tremendous setback in 2018 and it’s time for us to rebuild, retool and revitalize the Republican Party across the state of New York.”
Cox, meanwhile, has found a landing spot, helping raise funds for President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign — a contest Cox predicts will be a “realignment election” like that of his late father-in-law, Richard Nixon, in 1972.
Langworthy, standing next to his predecessor, praised the 72-year-old, especially for raising campaign funds, but said it’s time for new leadership.
“My election will represent a generational change for our party,” Langworthy said. He brushed aside a question about Republicans’ issues attracting minority and younger voters and cast an optimistic view on the next wave of New York voters and candidates.
“We have a wonderful nucleus of young elected (Republican) officials and party leaders and we’re going to continue to recruit them because it’s important for the Republican Party to show a face that’s based on the electorate,” he said. “It’s no disrespect to people who are elder, but we have to build for the future.”
Langworthy said New York voters next election cycle will lash back against “complete Democratic domination in Albany.”
Cox had led the New York GOP since 2009. But last year, amid a Democratic “blue wave,” Republicans lost every statewide election, lost three congressional seats and lost control of their last bastion of power in New York, the State Senate. They went from a one-seat advantage in the Senate to a 17-seat deficit.
That sparked calls for changes in leadership.
Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) survived an internal challenge within the Senate Republican conference, but now serves as a minority leader rather than majority leader.
Meanwhile, Langworthy launched a bid to oust Cox, saying “defeat has become a regular habit for New York Republicans.” Thanks in part to a 2-1 enrollment disadvantage to Democrats, the GOP hasn’t won a statewide election since George Pataki won a third term as governor in 2002. It holds just six of the state’s 27 congressional seats and is solidly in the minority in both houses of the State Legislature.
Long Island GOP leaders stuck with Cox when the fight began, but over the weekend it became clear Langworthy was close to securing support from enough county chairs around the state to declare a majority.
With Langworthy allies claiming victory early Monday, the Trump campaign later in the day announced Cox was joining the president’s 2020 campaign team.
For his part, Cox on Tuesday said: “The party is unified and we are passing the baton to an energetic, new chairman.”