State GOP leaders look ahead to general election

Apr 24, 2012

New York’s Presidential primary is Tuesday, but the initial excitement over the vote vanished when Rick Santorum dropped out earlier this month. State GOP leaders say they are looking ahead to the general election instead.

Earlier this year, it seemed that New York, which has a relatively late primary, might actually be a contested state, as first Newt Gingrich, then Rick Santorum appeared to present a serious challenge to GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney. But Santorum dropped out, and Gingrich’s campaign fizzled. Romney, who has led in polls among New York Republicans, did not even show up for the state GOP dinner on April 19 and has campaigned in other states holding primaries Tuesday instead, like Pennsylvania.

State Republican Chairman Ed Cox says he’s “pivoting” to the general election, and promoting Romney against President Obama.

But Cox, who was the leader for Senator John McCain’s campaign for President in 2008, says he’s learned that the state, especially New York City, is important for another reason; numerous  wealthy, politically involved donors.

“This is where the money is, this is where the media is,” said Cox. “New York can have a huge impact on a presidential campaign.”

Chairman Cox endorsed Romney just after Santorum quit the race. The Republican Leader of the State Senate, Dean Skelos, endorsed Romney much earlier. Skelos, in an interview with public radio and TV in late March, said he thinks the more moderate Romney is “in synch” with voters in New York.

Skelos says he thinks the long drawn out primary has been a “good vetting process” for Romney and the Republican Party. And he says he thinks public discontent with high gas prices, the growing federal debt and high taxes and unemployment will help the Republican presidential candidate.

“That’s really what people are going to focus on,” said Skelos. “And that’s where we’re going to be successful.”  

Recent polls show President Obama with a commanding lead over Romney in New York, with the Democratic President up to 25 percentage points ahead in the mostly blue state.