The following is an expanded version of the second item from my “Albany Insider” column from Monday’s print editions:
ALBANY — As he seeks to head the state Republican party, Erie County GOP Chairman Nicholas Langworthy has a Carl Paladino problem, several party officials and operatives say.?
Langworthy hails from the same county and is friends with Paladino, the bombastic Buffalo businessman who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and who has been accused in the past of racism.
“(Langworthy’s) support is widely viewed as coming from Paladino, which then begs the question of what influence would Paladino have over the state party,” said one GOP operative.
The source and other Republicans also expressed concerns that Langworthy hailing from the western part of New York won’t be able to easily tap into the party’s downstate donor base.
Langworthy forcefully dismissed both arguments.
“Anyone suggesting that is clearly concerned about their own ability to lead,” he said.
“I don’t have a Paladino problem,” Langworthy said. “I have Carl Paladino as a friend of mine. He’s been a supporter of the (county) party like he’s been a (financial) supporter of (state GOP Chairman) Ed Cox and the state party.”?
He added that Paladino, who was a co-chairman of President Trump’s 2016 New York campaign, “has never tried to influence or control a single decision I’ve made as party chair.”
He did acknowledge that he has heard the concerns as he has traveled the state speaking to county Republican leaders.
As for hailing from upstate, Langworthy said the party hasn’t won a statewide race in the 10 years Cox, who lives downstate, has been chairman.
He also notes the party’s greatest modern successes took place under former GOP Chairman William Powers, who was from the Albany area.
“An upstate person who knows how to lead, who can build a plan, who understands how to win, can raise whatever money this party needs to succeed,” Langworthy said.
Cox, despite 11 upstate counties chairs calling for him to step aside, has said he will seek another term in July as state chairman. Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle is also considering seeking the post.