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State GOP chairman upbeat

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ALBANY -- Republican State Chairman Ed Cox spent election night at the Suffolk County GOP's victory party. Yes, he insists, "It was a celebration."

The GOP lost the race for Suffolk County executive on Tuesday, as well as another county executive race in Erie County and the race for mayor of Yonkers. In all three contests, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo personally rallied with the victorious candidates, soaking up praise for their wins and helping himself in 2014 by knocking Republican Erie County Executive Chris Collins from the political scene.

But Cox was focused down-ballot, "at a level that doesn't get noticed in general media." Republicans, he noted, won control of the Town Board in Islip and 10 state Supreme Court judgeships.

Those developments, he argues, translates into a farm team that will serve the party well in two years. Cox points to the county executive victories of "comers" in Dutchess and Broome counties -- Marc Molinaro and Debbie Preston -- as proof.

And he also stressed the significance of what he hopes will be another win in Westchester County, where Republicans are hoping to expand to a "superminority" in the legislature capable of preventing Democrats from overruling vetoes by County Executive Rob Astorino, who now stands firmly in the top tier of potential GOP statewide candidates. The races there are still too close to call.

"For him to have the support of the superminority in the legislature is very important for him to do what the people of Westchester need," Cox said. "With a superminority he can get that county back on the right track, and that is the reason to invest there. Clearly Rob Astorino is a comer."

Republicans have fewer bright spots to point to in the Capital Region. They didn't field candidates for many races in Albany County, including county executive, and lost bids to control Troy and Colonie. They did hold onto the Saratoga Springs mayoralty, and Roger Hull, the party's endorsed mayoral candidate in Schenectady, has come close enough to beating acting Mayor Gary McCarthy that the race will be decided by absentee ballots.

All the Democratic candidates in those races received Cuomo's endorsement.

While Cox insisted the "tide was rising," Cuomo in radio interviews Wednesday said people voted for "progress."

"I think what people were saying across the board -- and I don't think it's Democrat or Republican, frankly -- is they're impatient, they're anxious, they're frustrated," Cuomo said.

Bruce Gyory, an adjunct professor at the University at Albany and a political consultant who has advised three governors, agreed that some anti-incumbent-party sentiment was at work, but Cuomo was well-positioned to help.

"In that stormy mix, Gov. Cuomo can be a life raft for Democrats," Gyory said in an email. "His popularity is buoyant where the currents are toughest for Democrats. Cuomo's endorsement helped validate Democrats in Erie and Suffolk, (regions) that looked like tea party cauldrons a short time ago. That dynamic revolving around the value of Cuomo's endorsement could provide persuasive leverage for the governor in the next session as the political turbulence will continue to rage in 2012."

Reach Vielkind at 454-5081 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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