By Robert J. McCarthy
Sometimes it's tough to be chairman of the New York Republican Party. Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 2.4 million voters, and the GOP has failed to elect a statewide official since Gov. George E. Pataki in 2002.
But Chairman Edward F. Cox is exuding some major optimism -- especially about congressional races -- as the 2012 election season winds down. He attributes it all to the momentum gained by presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the days since his first debate with President Obama.
"Look at the huge impact," he said Wednesday. "You see it in congressional races all across the state."
Cox was speaking from Syracuse, where he was campaigning for Republican Rep. Anne Marie Buerkle, facing a tough challenge from the man she unseated in 2010 -- Democrat Dan Maffei.
He claimed Maffei is now willing to debate Buerkle, and as far as the chairman is concerned, that mirrors developments throughout much of the state's congressional landscape.
"It means they have problems," he said.
"There's been a change," he added. "It starts at the top of the ticket and comes on down."
Cox said the same optimism guiding him in the Buerkle race shapes his view in Western New York, where he said Romney momentum should translate into results for Republican congressional candidate Chris Collins against Democratic incumbent Kathleen C. Hochul.
"I suspect Chris will do very well," he said.