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GOP Chairman Cox: Cuomo, de Blasio "Two Thugs"

NY GOP Chair Ed Cox
GOP Chair Ed Cox

New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox is this week's guest on the Capitol Connection. Here is a preview of what the chairman and WAMC's Alan Chartock discussed:

On New York's presidential primary:

“We wanted to have a wide open, pure primary, and we planned it, and we planned dinner right in the middle of it, honoring Susana Martinez, first Latina governor in the United States, and a potential Vice Presidential candidate, etcetera, all the candidates came to it…We had a wonderful primary for the first time in the history of Republican presidential primaries in the history of New York State, and it changed the course of the nomination process when Donald Trump got 60 percent."

On his endorsement of Donald Trump:

“Now we go way back with him. And, I remember Mrs. Nixon in ’87, she was watching him on the Donahue show and she told the president ‘Wow, he’s good, you know.’ And the president wrote him a letter saying, ‘When you run, when you run for office, you’re gonna win.’ And, some people have that X factor. And...He’s one of the-Reagan is the same thing. I remember watching him on Death Valley Days-I’m now aging myself here…I remember saying to myself as a kid, ‘You know, that person should be president,’ he just had that kind of presence. Well, Trump has the same thing, and he’s showing it now, very effectively. And, I had to remain neutral, and my committee remained neutral, even though there were a lot of Trump supporters, because we were having our New Hampshire moment. That is a wide open, great primary where Trump and Cruz and Kasich campaigned all over the state and gave our party grassroots real excitement and the chance to buy their vote to change the course of the nomination process, and they did, and right after that I endorsed Donald."

On unity within the GOP:

“What we need now in the party, going forward, we need unity, and as soon as possible. Get it done, get behind our now presumptive nominee and start looking to the general election.”

On New Mexico governor Susana Martinez:

“She’s had a great record as governor in the way she’s done. Both on the political side, the way she’s turned the Democratic legislature to supporting her as a Republican. Or, in fact, where they didn’t agree with her, she made sure that they weren’t reelected because she stood for what the people of New Mexico wanted. So she turned one house of legislature, got the other to support her so she could get a program. She showed a lot of political skill, and has done a good job as governor of New Mexico. So now it’s more than just a good personal story, it’s a good governing story, and that puts her in the running to be our vice presidential nominee.”

On choosing a vice presidential nominee:

“We are now going to start a unifying process for the party behind our presumptive nominee. So it’s gonna be up to him at some time in the future to decide who are nominee is gonna be. All I’m saying is that we’ve got an outstanding governor in New Mexico who is the first Latina governor, and who is a woman, and who has been a good governor and a great personal story who gave a great speech before a national audience-probably an international audience-as our honoree at our dinner, just before our primary. That was a huge press coverage and she was the first one out, gave a great speech. Then afterwards, she met with some smaller groups, and I watched her describe what she was doing and making again what her program was and how she was getting through politically and just working it through the legislature. And she’s doing a great job, so she’s got to be on the list.”

On NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's campaign contributions:

“At the worst, he was right in the middle of this for his own political future and his political program, just not paying attention to the law in raising money and applying it, and trying to get control of the state Senate for his own purposes, for his own purposes: downstate purposes. And he lost, of course, it backfired on him. Now, here’s who's maybe behind this. Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo, went after Spitzer on sort of criminal legal grounds with respect to the state police and Bruno and all that, and damaged him politically. He went after Paterson and got him not to run again with the same thing with these Yankee tickets or whatever. And again, and he has planted this person in the-who was-leaked-did the memo saying that the de Blasio criminal liability is in fact an Andrew Cuomo person. So, there’s a huge political element in this which is not pretty at all with respect to Cuomo.”

On Cuomo's role in the scandal:

“He put a mickey in Spitzer; he put a mickey in Paterson, why shouldn’t he do it to de Blasio? And this person, Sugarman, is his person, worked for him when he was attorney general. That’s got to be taken to account, and is there something…And that was a leaked memo, calling -- saying that the mayor had criminal liability, I mean. And referring it to Bharara, and to Vance, so putting them on the spot that they have to do something. You got to, you got to look at this, and Cuomo here really doing something that he shouldn’t do. And, he’s fighting political battles when he should be taking -- in a way criminalizing politics -- when he should be really paying attention to what he has to do in the state to make jobs grow, et cetera.”

“People are scared of Cuomo. Just like here in New York City they’re scared of de Blasio, that they got to contribute to him -- when he calls, they got to contribute or they won’t get their permits, they won’t get this, they won’t get that. And it’s the same; we are talking about two thugs here, who are going at each other. But the governor is more practiced at it, let me put it that way, and has got more people in place. Same as JCOPE, he put his person in the ethics committee -- the present ethics commission in Albany -- to do the same thing, to protect him, not go after him, to go after his enemies, as he perceives it. Or people he wants to go after, even if they don’t want to be his enemies.”

On Cuomo's chances in the 2018 gubernatorial race:

“He’s very vulnerable in 2018, and he knows it. He has been -- you know, he stole our political clothes in 2010 on the most important issues and that was with respect to being fiscally responsible. He stole our idea of tax cap that was developed by the Republicans in the assembly on property taxes and he pushed that during the 2010 campaign. He said he would close the 10 billion dollar budget gap without raising taxes. This proved to be only a 3 billion dollar deficit federally, and he closed it by raising taxes in part, by extending the surcharge, etcetera. But, he still maintained this aura of fiscal responsibility and to a certain extent during the 2014 campaign. But, he got his own comeuppance in his own party, which is going hard left and full progressive hard left, and he only got 60 percent in his own democratic primary. He had to beg de Blasio and make empty promises to the Working Families Party to get their nomination. He does not want that to happen again, he doesn’t want to have de Blasio’s mercy, if you will. So, he has gone hard left, with respect to the work with Fight for Fifteen and the 1199 SEIU. He is really making up to special interest base of the Democratic Party that are basically destroying the economy of the state. He threw his lot in with them completely. He will go the same way as the Democratic administrations in Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts, which were followed by Republicans because they failed the people of their very blue states in 2014. He has lost the aura of fiscal responsibility and of being concerned about the jobs of the people of New York State. He will be vulnerable in 2018.”

On Republican chances in 2018:

“We will win in 2018, and Cuomo knows it and he’s looking for a way out.”

Dr. Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the University at Albany. He hosts the weekly Capitol Connection series, heard on public radio stations around New York. The program, for almost 12 years, highlighted interviews with Governor Mario Cuomo and now continues with conversations with state political leaders. Dr. Chartock also appears each week on The Media Project and The Roundtable and offers commentary on Morning Edition, weekdays at 7:40 a.m.
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