State GOP leader Ed Cox on Wednesday endorsed Manhattan lawyer Keith Wofford in the crowded race for state attorney general.
“I think that Keith Wofford has tremendous talents,” Cox told reporters gathered at the GOP’s nominating convention in Manhattan. “He’s a co-manager of his firm, he has done very well in his bankruptcy practice and he is very eager.”
Cox’s endorsement gives Wofford, a Buffalo native and Harvard Law School graduate, much needed support heading into what is expected to be a tightly contested battle for the GOP’s nomination Thursday morning.
Several other candidates, including former state Housing Commissioner Joseph Holland and Manhattan corporate lawyer Manny Alicandro, are also vying for the seat. Wofford, who was among the last candidates to enter the race, is a co-managing partner at Ropes & Gray’s New York City office.
Chapin Fay, a spokesman for Alicandro, downplayed Cox’s endorsement and said his candidate was prepared to wage a primary if necessary to win the GOP nod.
“The chairman does not make the decision on his own,” Fay said.
Some Republicans, however, have questioned whether Alicandro meets the five-year New York residency requirement, noting records indicate he previously lived in New Jersey and did not start voting in New York until 2014.
Fay insisted, however, that Alicandro moved back to New York in 2007.
The race for attorney general, which had been proceeding largely under New York’s political radar, was turned upside-down earlier this month when incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman was forced to resign because of allegations he abused women.
Several Republicans had hoped that John Cahill, who served as chief of staff to former Gov. George Pataki and ran for the post in 2014, would enter the race. But Cahill said Monday that he would not seek the post.