Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy has long aspired to succeed Ed Cox as the Chairman of the state organization. But some local Republicans scoff at the idea, following the embarrassing loss of Erin Baker, Langworthy’s longtime girlfriend and a recipient of multiple patronage jobs at the Erie County Water Authority, in her bid for Amherst Town Council last year.
“He can’t get his girlfriend elected to the Town Board and he thinks he can run the State party in a state as difficult for Republicans as New York,” asks one operative close to the situation. “Chris Collins would be a spectacular State Chairman, if he could be convinced to leave the Congress. The primarily Manhattan-fundraising role would suit him.”
Langworthy’s tenure as Chairman in Erie County has been over a fractured organization, with weakly projected messaging and policy objectives, a shallow bench of prospective candidates, and an unwillingness to field candidates in difficult districts.
For a race that typically costs around $15,000 for a candidate to successfully wage, Baker raised more than $70,000 — not hesitating to leverage Langworthy’s connections outside of the district. Baker and Langworthy met when he was former Congressman Tom Reynold’s Chief of Staff where she worked as an intern — a common genesis of romantic relationships in the political realm.
Critics point to Langworthy’s lackluster voter registration efforts and lack of a plan to close the party enrollment disadvantage in Erie County, where there are 100,000 more Democrats that Republicans. Activists want to see the party engage in aggressive party building efforts town by town, especially in light of the party’s stunning losses in Amherst in the last election cycle. Amherst is traditionally a Republican stronghold, where control of the Supervisor’s Office and Town Board changed in sweeping fashion.
“Following Paladino’s gubernatorial run in 2010, Western New York had an opportunity to emerge as the seat of the party, with an outsized influence that could have been parlayed into something more,” explains one political observer. “Instead we haven’t been able to get any candidates from Western New York on a statewide ballot. It’s even worse this year.”
Unless the Party backs former two term County Executive Joel Giambra, the Republican ticket may lack even a single candidate from west of the Hudson River. Langworthy has even actively undermined Giambra’s gubernatorial candidacy — while making no effort to advance Western New York contenders for state office. Many local operatives feel betrayed by the leadership style.