One aspect of this year's elections that hasn't been closely analyzed is the performance of former Lieutenant Governor candidate and current Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards.
As you recall, Edwards was initially the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio while Tom Ognibene was the running mate of GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. On Primary Day, Paladino overwhelmingly took the GOP nomination while Edwards won the Lieutenant Governor primary. This dynamic created what was ultimately the Paladino/Edwards ticket.
But the showing of Edwards cannot be underestimated. Despite the massive Paladino wave, the voters rejected Paladino's running mate and chose Edwards. By the numbers, Paladino won the Primary Election with 295,336 votes to Lazio's 184,348. That's a margin of 110,000 votes, a spread that most thought would have been more than sufficient to carry Ognibene to victory - but it wasn't. Edwards won the state with 227,093 votes to Ognibene's 202,081. Interestingly, Edwards won New York City 20,175 to 18,550 over Ognibene. Conversely, Lazio won New York City 24,538 to 19,649 over Paladino. Edwards also won areas outside of New York City 206,918 to 183,531.
What this means is that voters find Edwards very appealing. At 50 years-old, he is a relative political newcomer, winning his first county executive race in 2005 against a two-term incumbent and re-election in 2009. He has quickly developed a reputation as a politically astute and professional executive who's built a solid political organization.
More importantly, he has positioned himself as someone who must be factored into the discussion when the Republican Party in New York State analyzes its future. Look...we've said it before and we'll say it again: Ed Cox is not the right person to lead the GOP. He failed miserably at the statewide elections while trying to take credit for regional wins that he had nothing to do with; these are not the characteristics of an effective leader.
Edwards is someone who's shown that he can raise money, deliver a message that resonates with voters across the state and, most importantly to the state GOP, build the necessary consensus and unity that has been so glaringly absent in the recent past. The New York State Republican Party would be well served to welcome Edwards into the organization - let's hope they're able to put their petty internal squabbling aside for the betterment of the party by welcoming him.