The sudden toppling of Ed Cox as chair of the New York State Republican Party happened this weekend just days after President Donald Trump signaled that he no longer supports the long-time establishment GOP figure, according to two sources with knowledge of what happened.
Trump communicated with a prominent New York Republican late last week who along with big upstate donors and Buffalo’s Carl Paladino had badgered the White House political team for a change. The pressure campaign, the sources told The Point, continued at a big fundraiser Trump attended in Manhattan on Thursday.
Word of Trump’s flip after the fundraiser allowed Nick Langworthy, the Erie County party chair who mounted a strong challenge to Cox, to work the phones over the weekend to convince fellow upstate county chairs to pledge their support. Langworthy pointed to Cox’s loss of the State Senate in November as well as several congressional seats. One source close to Cox said Trump was disappointed with the NYC Fundraiser and wanted Cox to step up his fundraising efforts on his behalf.
As little as two weeks ago, Trump reportedly was reluctant to make the move even though Cox was never a part of the president’s inner circle. At that time, Trump’s answer was four words, “No need for change.” But that didn’t stop the drumbeat for Cox’s head before the state party organizational meeting in July. Langworthy’s loudest, if not biggest booster, is Paladino, who was co-chair of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Palladino’s unorthodox but unsuccessful for governor in 2010 against Andrew M. Cuomo impressed and influenced Trump’s own run.
Trump’s change of heart surprised Cox and the state organization, which put out a statement Monday morning hours after Langworthy announced he had the votes. Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale then announced that Cox would join the “Trump Victory” fundraising effort in New York. “He was asked by the president to help lead finance efforts in New York for his re-elect and he didn’t want the party to be fractured,” a state party insider told The Point.
John Jay LaValle, the former Suffolk County GOP chair, said he met with Cox in February about running for the spot. But he said Cox told him he was committed to running for another term and that he feared that a LaValle challenge and a three-way brawl would throw the contest to Langworthy.