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What To Expect: N.Y. And Conn. Lawmakers On The GOP Convention

Gene J. Puskar
Preparations take place inside Quicken Loans Arena for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.


The Republican National Convention begins in Cleveland on Monday. Republicans will hear from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, who are billed as official Trump-Pence surrogates, as well as CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow. New York Republican State Party Chair Ed Cox says he doesn’t think the delegates need a lot of convincing, though he admits that many of them initially supported others in what was originally a 16 candidate race. “We are unified certainly in form,” said Cox, who expects that as the convention proceeds the delegates will also be “unified in sprit” as well.

Cox says a lot will ride on whether Trump appears statesmanlike in his acceptance speech on Thursday.

Many of New York’s Republican Congressional candidates and incumbents are not coming to the convention, including the North Country’s Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, candidate Jack Martins on Long Island and Hudson Valley Congressional candidate John Faso.

Cox says it’s not unusual for candidates to remain in their districts campaigning, and he says it has nothing to do with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, who he predicts will help GOP congressional candidates win their races. “Trump is strong in every one of those districts,” said Cox. “The reason that they are not here is not because of Donald Trump. He’s going to help them.”

Faso’s opponent in the congressional race, Zephyr Teachout, who primaried Andrew Cuomo for governor in 2014, is also skipping the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will have a speaking role at the convention on Monday night, while it appears Buffalo area Congressman Chris Collins, who was one of the first to endorse Trump, will not.

Meanwhile, Connecticut GOP State Chair J.R. Romano says the convention will be a boost to his party’s chances for regaining the presidency in this fall’s election. Romano has been in Cleveland taking part in pre-convention meetings since last week. He says he’s not expecting any problems during the four-day convention.

“We are so excited to be here in Cleveland. The people of Cleveland have been great, very hospitable, they are excited that we are here. They are going to be given a chance to show off this great city and going to have a really good time. We are excited.”

Connecticut is sending 28 delegates and 25 alternates to the convention. Members of the delegation include former Connecticut Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon and Minority Leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives Themis Klarides.  

As the convention kicks off, the City of Cleveland is a near police state with road closures, and police from across the nation on foot, bicycle and horseback. Secret Service is everywhere, and helicopters fly above. The city’s police union is calling on Governor Kasich to suspend the state’s open carry weapons law for the convention, in light of the Baton Rouge shootings Sunday that left three police officers dead. Despite protesters that marched near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the city of Cleveland put on a reception at the waterfront for thousands of delegates Sunday night. Kasich released his public schedule for the week. He’ll attend events in Cleveland, including speaking to the Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire delegations. But he won’t be attending any of the events at the arena where the main convention is taking place.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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