Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy is likely to receive the support of President Donald J. Trump in his bid to unseat Ed Cox — an establishment figure from Manhattan who has been hostile to the President.
It’s rumored among local operatives that Trump may even make an appearance at the State Party’s convention later this year, where the election of a new chairman will take place — and where the President’s presence could be determinatively powerful in swinging the votes of some county chairmen.
Langworthy has a strong base of support Upstate, while Cox is relying heavily on the chairmen of Suffolk, Nassau, and Westchester counties for much of his weighted share of the vote. In recent weeks, Langworthy has circulated a map of counties where he has secured the backing of that county’s local party organization.
While Langworthy has committed support from more chairmen than Cox, it’s still a close contest. Cox supporters countered with thier own map, suggesting that Upstate — where most of the party’s voters and elected legislators are located — doesn’t particularly matter.
At only 38 years old, Langworthy has led Erie County’s GOP for the last nine years — making the party surprising relevant in countywide contests, despite a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage for the Democrats.
Langworthy was an early and energetic backer of then-candidate Trump. With local businessman Carl Paladino and Republican operative Micheal Caputo, he even lobbied Trump to challenge Andrew Cuomo for the governorship in 2014.
But Langworthy is not seen as a far-right ideologue and often backs moderates for statewide and countywide offices while promoting more conservative candidates in safe legislative districts. Observers say that the strategy is astute, particularly for such a young party leader.
It’s been widely rumored among New York-area operatives that Cox played a key hand in recruiting former Massachusetts Governor William Weld to run for President in 2020 on the Libertarian Party line, in an effort to undermine Trump’s reelection effort.
That’s a particularly bold move, considering that Cox has failed to field a successful candidate for statewide office since taking the helm of the party in 2009. Despite the passing of three gubernatorial election cycles, not a single candidate for Governor, Comptroller, or Attorney general has come even close to winning those offices — and despite Cuomo administration corruption scandals.
Cox is the son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon.