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Cox takes step toward challenging Clinton

From Phil Hirschkorn

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Edward Cox, son-in-law of a former president, is taking the first formal step to challenge a former first lady, Hillary Clinton, for her U.S. Senate seat.

Cox, 58, a Republican lawyer who has never run for office, will file papers with the Federal Election Commission in Washington creating an exploratory committee, Friends of Ed Cox Inc., for the 2006 U.S. Senate race in New York. He is married to Richard Nixon's daughter, Tricia

"I am considering this run because New York needs a senator truly focused on solving the chronic problems that have driven too many jobs and too many of our children out of state," Cox said in a written statement. "New Yorkers have real needs and they demand real results."

Cox hopes to turns Clinton's popularity among Democrats nationwide for a possible 2008 White House run into a positive for himself.

"The people of New York deserve a senator committed to New York and only New York. I look forward to opening a dialogue with residents about innovative solutions to New York's problems," Cox said.

Clinton, 57, has declined to reveal her political plans beyond next year's race. She comfortably beat Republican congressman Rick Lazio in 2000, capturing 55 percent of the vote after being outspent by $10 million.

Cox spokesman Thomas Basile said that over the next several months, Cox will be holding discussions with New Yorkers, campaign advisors, elected officials and Republican party leaders as he makes a final decision on whether to challenge Clinton.

He said Clinton has failed to deliver promises to boost the upstate economy with jobs and investment, and Cox is capable of making the case against her.

"Mr. Cox is not new to the political arena. He has been around politics, government and public service for 30 years," Basile said. "He is not a lightweight by any stretch of the imagination."

But Cox may not be the only Republican vying for the opportunity.

Prosecutor Jeanine Pirro announced Monday that she would forgo a fourth term as Westchester County district attorney for a run for statewide office -- either senator, governor or attorney general.

Cox married Tricia Nixon, whom he met at a high school dance, in a 1971 White House wedding and traveled extensively around the world with President Nixon during and after his presidency.

His only government experience was serving in the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1983 as general counsel to Synfuels Corp., an alternative energy effort.

Cox, a lifelong New Yorker, is a trustee of the state university system, a member of the state commission on judicial nominations, and a director of the Foreign Policy Association.

He is also chairman of the State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

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