New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox on Tuesday said celebrity billionaire Donald Trump will have to get out and travel the state if he's serious about a run for governor this year.
Trump has been formally invited to the state party's executive committee meeting in Albany next week to make his pitch to county GOP chairs from across the state, Cox said. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a potential GOP gubernatorial candidate, will be in attendance, Cox said.
Cox's comments on WNBF-AM in Binghamton came less than an hour after Trump, the "Apprentice" host and real-estate developer, was critical of Republican leadership in New York, saying the party's leaders "don't seem to want to grab the ball and go on to victory."
Trump, on WGDJ-AM in Albany, said Cox must reach out to him and promise a unified Republican Party in order for him to run.
"I'm flattered, but he doesn't understand the Republican Party," Cox said in response. "We do have a process. We've got county leaders all around the state who have to be consulted, who will have input in this. He has to reach out to all of them if he's serious about running. He can't just have a few leaders who are interested in him to come to his office. He has to go out and meet with them and talk with them."
So far, a group of Republican officials in New York—including Assemblyman Bill Nojay, R-Pittsford, Monroe County—have traveled twice to Trump Tower in Manhattan to encourage Trump to challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has built up a campaign war chest of around $30 million.
On WGDJ, Trump told host Fred Dicker that he was "50-50" on a potential run. But Trump has had serial flirtations with running for political office before, and his plea for a unified Republican Party is unlikely with Astorino's name still in the mix.
Cox, meanwhile, has actively touted the potential candidacy of Astorino, who has traveled the state in recent weeks to meet with Republican officials and raise funds for a potential challenge to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Astorino, who was elected to a second term as county executive in November, has said he will decide within the next 60 days.
"He's an extraordinarily successful, fiscally responsible, pro-taxpayer and pro-economic growth leader," Cox said. "He's been elected twice in 2-to-1 Democratic Westchester County as a social conservative in one of the most socially liberal and one of the most highest-taxed counties in the United States."