The chairs of 11 mostly North Country Republican county committees have signed onto a letter asking for the state Republican chairman Edward F. Cox to resign.
The letter, which was first reported on Wednesday by the New York Daily News, cited the 2018 elections as the reason a new leader was needed.
“The 2018 election was disastrous for the NYGOP on nearly all levels,” the letter reads. “We lost every statewide election by wide margins and we lost control of the New York State Senate in spectacular fashion.”
The State Committee sent a comment from Cox to the Watertown Daily Times on Friday.
“I share the frustration with the disappointing election, but despite the results, we got the most votes cast — 2.2 million — since 2002,” Cox wrote. “As Chairman of the NYGOP, I am laser-focused on preparing for the important 2019 local elections and working with the Republican conferences in the legislature to offer a unified, alternative agenda to the Democrats that we are confident will win us back seats in the next cycle.”
The letter from the county chairs was also sent to all the other county chairs in New York, although it was not released publicly.
The letter came out of meetings between county chairs in the 4th Judicial District, including Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schenectady, St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington.
“The 4th JD people at least ... feel like it’s time for a change,” said Thomas L. Jenison, chair of the St. Lawrence County committee and one of the signatories. “There’s issues in New York State with the Republican party.”
Jennison said the letter came out of the regular meetings of the chairs in the judicial district, which covers State Supreme Court elections and nominees.
“Traditionally at the end of the meeting there was time to talk about the last year’s elections or next year’s elections,” he said.
The chairs agreed during these informal talks it was time for new blood in the party.
The letter was presented to Cox by Susan McNeil, Fulton county chair, and several others on Tuesday.
“We feel it’s time for a change in leadership,” she said. “After the election it just started brewing.”
McNeil said they were not looking for further signatures on the letter at the moment. She did say that the Erie County Chair Nicholas Langworthy — who is listed in the Daily News story as the likely favorite to replace Cox as state chair — had met separately with Cox to ask him to resign. Langworthy could not be reached on Thursday for comment.
The next selection of a statewide chair would come in September, but McNeil said the issues are too pressing to wait.
“Because of the importance of what we have on the slate we need a change in leadership now,” she said.
The letter also criticized Cox for the process of selecting Marc Molinaro as the party’s 2018 gubernatorial candidate, saying the process left Molinaro without the money, time or endorsements to win.
Molinaro did not return a request for comment from the Times.
“Mr. Chairman, the North Country Republicans request that you graciously resign from your position and allow a new leader to take the reins,” the letter reads. “Waiting for the undeniable outcome of an election for State Chairman would only delay the needed restructuring and revitalization our party sorely needs and would send a message to the citizens of our state that we aren’t serious about becoming a viable party again.”
Not all north country Republicans feel this way, however. Jefferson County Chair Donald Coon III said he disagreed with the assessment by the 4th Judicial District chairs — Jefferson County is in the 5th Judicial District.
“Obviously we had a disappointing year on the statewide level and it’s easy to point to one guy and say he’s the cause of it,” Coon said. “I don’t subscribe to that.”
Coon said the idea of removing Cox early would damage the party further.
“It would just leave us rudderless,” he said.