Ed Cox, best-known as a son-in-law of the late President Richard Nixon and lesser-known for being chairman of New York’s Republican Party, surveyed the rubble of his state party’s recent political past and came up with five people he says have a chance to beat Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014.
Among that quintet is Rep. Chris Gibson, a second-term congressman now serving in the redrawn 19th District.
Given the New York GOP’s woeful recent history and Cuomo’s popularity in a state where Democrats hold a 2.5-to-1 registration advantage, it might be considered sort of a backhand compliment to be named to that particular list of contenders.
Still, the Republicans could do worse than to select Mr. Gibson.
A whole lot worse, particularly when you consider how favorably Gibson compares with Carl Paladino, the mercurial and often-irrational GOP candidate who was handily defeated by Cuomo in 2010.
From Gibson’s middle class upbringing in Kinderhook to enlisting in the National Guard at age 17 and graduating magna cum laude from Siena College and then earning an MPA and Ph.D at Cornell University to raising a family of three with his wife of 17 years, Gibson would seem to be an American success story untouched by even a hint of scandal.
Add into that Gibson’s distinguished 24-year career in the Army, which included four combat tours in Iraq, two Legions of Merit, four Bronze Star medals, a Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab, and the Republicans could well have themselves a very attractive candidate.
For his part, the personable Gibson is keeping his options open. Along with saying that he is more likely to be a strong supporter of whoever the Republicans nominate, he did not rule out being a candidate.
A problem could be that his conservative views on such issues as abortion, gun control and gay marriage put him in the mainstream of national GOP doctrine but out of the mainstream when it comes to New York’s liberal electorate.
“I do believe that Gov. Cuomo is going to be vulnerable,” he told The Daily Star during a stop in Fly Creek on Thursday afternoon.
The road to New York’s governor’s mansion is filled with potholes for any Republican. Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, targeted by the national GOP as vulnerable, won re-election in November with a resounding 72 percent of the vote. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry New York was Ronald Reagan in 1984.
But given the moribund state of his party in New York, even a losing but credible campaign could greatly enhance Gibson’s reputation and future.
Yes, the GOP could do a whole lot worse than Chris Gibson.