For New York's struggling Republicans, fundraising challenges now include a new twist.
The key talking points from state chairman Edward Cox and Suffolk chairman John Jay LaValle took shape shortly after Suffolk's newly minted Republican County Executive Steve Levy bowed out as their most valued prospect, saying he won't seek a third term. Cox and LaValle have since noted repeatedly that most of those funds in Levy's more than $4 million campaign account -- to be given up to Republican-turned-Democrat District Attorney Thomas Spota -- were raised during Levy's time as a Democrat. This gives Republicans the chance to say that any questionable fundraising was not theirs as they prepare to face Democratic Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone for county executive, whose campaign coffers have grown.
Cox's decision to court Levy for governor last year now fuels criticism from those looking to oust the chairman in September. Possible challengers have included Nick Langworthy, chairman of the Erie County Republicans, who seem to be in perpetual revolt, and Ed Lurie, who has served before as state executive director and headed the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee.
Amid that static, a question arises: How's Cox's own party fundraising? His executive director, Thomas Basile, waxes positive, saying Cox and company have been "building relationships with major donors over the last year and a half" as well as developing a base of smaller donors.
According to election filings posted last month, the New York Republican State Committee's reporting account had $104,547.25 on hand. The committee's housekeeping account totaled $131,802.45. The most recent major donations to those accounts came from David Koch, one of the Midwestern industrialist Koch brothers who fund right-wing causes ($100,000), a firm affiliated with developer Peter Kalikow ($50,000) and the Westchester GOP ($25,000). That's in addition to funds in a federal account.
The state party's spring dinner will be held in early June. Last year's, featuring Jeb Bush, brought in nearly $1 million, Basile said. In state government, the most important Republican is Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre. As of January, his conference's campaign accounts held a combined $611,131.