ALBANY - Weary of losing seats in state and federal elections, county Republican chairs across the state lobbied recently for a new party leader - and now their wishes are fulfilled.
State Republican Party Chairman Richard Mondello announced Monday his intent not to seek another term in the post, soon after GOP county officials launched a high-profile move to seek new leadership.
Mondello's announcement came after Ed Cox, son-in-law of the late U.S. President Richard Nixon, received considerable support from the state's county GOP chairs.
Mondello will serve through late September, when county party chairs are to meet and make decisions on leadership. Mondello, who said he intends to focus on politics in his home base of Nassau County, has served as the state party's chief since 2006.
The political shift ramps up a what could be a power struggle for statewide party leadership between Cox and Henry Wojaszek, 47, chairman of the Niagara County Republican Committee and former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cox's prospects emerged after he received the endorsement of nearly two-dozen county chairs last week - including several from the region.
In a letter of support signed by 16 GOP county chairs spanning an area from Franklin to Chenango county, Republican leaders made it clear that the current direction of the party is not resonating with the voting public, and something had to change.
"Over the past few years, it has become clear that our party is in crisis," the letter states. "As county chairmen, we are confident that you understand the need to rebuild our party from the ground up."
Cox, a Manhattan lawyer and SUNY Trustee, was responsible for directing the 2008 McCain presidential bid in the state.