Morgan, retiring Republican leader, praised for ‘putting Orleans County on the map’

Photos courtesy of Ed Morgan: Ed Morgan, center, is pictured with former gubernatorial candidates Rob Astorino, left, and Marc Molinaro.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2019 at 11:30 am

‘He’s isn’t bombastic. He’s not a bomb thrower. He has a blue-collar work ethic where you show up and put your time in.’ – Nick Langworthy, Erie County GOP chairman

Donald Trump, left, poses for a photo with Ed Morgan, Orleans County Republican Party chairman, at a meeting in New York City in January 2014, when Morgan and other Republican leaders tried to get Trump to run for governor.

MURRAY – Ed Morgan has met President Donald Trump several times and attended numerous events with the biggest Republican Party stars in the state and country.

He has been a key leader for the Republican Party in the state, a man whose blessing has been critical for many candidates at the local and state levels.

With Morgan as the Orleans County Republican Party chairman, the top candidates for state-wide positions, including governor, made sure to visit Orleans County. Marc Molinaro addressed the GOP fall rally in 2018, Rob Astorino did in 2014 and Carl Paladino was in Orleans in 2010. All ran for governor against Andrew Cuomo.

“You meet a lot of good people,” Morgan said about his role as a Republican leader. “Most of these people are down to earth. They put their pants on just like you and me.”

Morgan has ended a 12 ½ year tenure as Orleans County Republican Party chairman, and an 8-year commitment as a vice chairman on the NYS Republican Party Committee.

As vice chairman for the state GOP, he led the eight counties of Western New York despite being from one of the smallest counties. Niagara and Erie have far more people, and their chairmen have a bigger weighted vote.

But Morgan commanded their respect. The county chairmen in the bigger counties wanted Morgan to continue as vice chairman, as their leader. No one was looking to replace him.

“He is as genuine as they come,” said Nick Langworthy, chairman of the Erie County Republican Party. “There is zero ego with this man. He listens to your input. He has been a real asset to me. He was someone I could count on.”

Morgan led the 80-member Orleans County Republican Party Committee until Feb. 1. Skip Draper is the acting chairman until the party reorganizes.

“I want to thank Ed for his countless hours of dedication to the Republican Party,” Draper said. “We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

Morgan decided now was the right time to step down from the role. His wife Dorothy recently retired as a deputy elections commissioner with the county.

Morgan is pictured with from left: Assemblyman David DiPietro, Carl Paladino and Nick Langworthy, the Erie County Republican Party chairman.

Morgan will continue to work full-time as Murray’s highway superintendent. He also is chairman of the Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District, an elected fire commissioner for the Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Fire Company and Orleans County’s representative on the board of directors for the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.

“It’s been a great ride,” Morgan said. “There are parts that I will miss but some parts that I won’t.”

The election calendar has moved up, and the Republican Party already is going through the endorsement process. Soon they will be circulating petitions and the primary is June 25, instead of in September.

Morgan is happy to not be heavily involved in that process this election cycle. He will continue in a reduced role as a member of the Town of Murray Republican Committee.

He will be deeply missed as a WNY leader for the Republicans, Langworthy said.

“He cares so much,” Langworthy said. “He wants Western New York to be a better place. He’s had a tremendous career and he goes out on top. It’s the end of an era in Orleans County. He certainly put Orleans County on the map.”

Morgan grew up in Bergen. His brother Dan was a long-time president of the Board of Education for the Byron-Bergen school district.

Morgan said his family strives to be involved in the community. Before he was the highway superintendent, he was a farmer and the FHM fire chief. He was elected highway superintendent in November 1989.

He was instrumental in putting in the infrastructure for the Holley Business Park, and also pushed to have 15 water districts built in Murray.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Ed Morgan cooks spaghetti during the St. Rocco’s Italian Festival in September 2016. Morgan has been active with numerous local organizations.

He gets recruited to serve on boards, and it doesn’t take long before the other board members ask him to take on a leadership role.

“I’ve never aggressively went out and looked for anything,” Morgan said about the roles. “People approach me.”

Langworthy said people like Morgan’s style.

“He’s isn’t bombastic,” Langworthy said. “He’s not a bomb thrower. He has a blue-collar work ethic where you show up and put your time in.”

Many of the Republican Party chairmen are lawyers or business professionals. Morgan was unusual in the top echelon of the Republican Party in coming from a background as a farmer and then as a highway superintendent.

Richard Siebert, Genesee County Republican Party chairman, said Morgan is well regarded by Republican Party leaders in Western New York, and the elected officials from the party. Siebert hoped Morgan would stay as the WNY leader for four more years.

“His style is not to be aggressive but he is outspoken,” Siebert said. “He isn’t a pushover. He’s very dedicated and he’s respected by all of us.”

Siebert serves on the board of directors with Morgan for the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., which owns the Batavia Downs and OTB parlors in Western New York.

“We’ve been friends a long, long time,” Siebert said. “He’s a natural leader. He’s very dedicated.”

Photo by Tom Rivers: Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor in 2014, speaks at the Orleans County Fall Republican Rally in October that year. Morgan shared the stage with the candidate at the event. Many of the top candidates for state-wide offices visited Orleans out of repsect for Morgan.

Morgan, in his role as leader of the 8 county chairmen from WNY, insisted that all voices be heard, including from the smaller counties, especially when choosing candidates, Siebert said.

Morgan attended numerous Republican functions in WNY and Albany. He kept the other county leaders well informed of the issues, and navigated some surprises when George Maziarz suddenly withdrew his re-election campaign in the summer of 2014 and Chris Collins last year was indicted, stopped campaigning and then jumped back into the race. Morgan also led the search process for a candidate when Chris Lee resigned from Congress in February 2011. Morgan had just taken the helm as vice chairman for the region. There were 16 candidates, with Republican leaders deciding to back Jane Corwin.

Morgan has attended numerous events in WNY to support candidates. He wants elected officials with conservatives values and a focus on reducing government costs. He has travelled to Albany many times for the state convention and to meet with legislators. He is well known by most of the Republicans in the Assembly and State Senate.

“I enjoy the traveling and meeting people,” Morgan said. “It’s a drive. I’ve always had the drive when I do something it’s 100 percent.”

He attended the Republican National Conventions in 2012 in Tampa when Mitt Romney was nominated for president and in 2016 in Cleveland when Donald Trump was the candidate. Morgan was in the room when Trump gave his victory speech at about 3 in the morning on election night at the Hilton hotel in New York City.

Morgan said Trump is a “gentleman” to talk with privately. He first met him in 2014, when Republican leaders went to Trump Tower in New York City, to try to get him to run for governor. Trump would decline that race. He instead set his sights on being president.

“I’ve had several private dinners with Donald before he was president,” Morgan said. “We tried to talk him into government.”

Behind Morgan, Orleans County was an early county to endorse Trump for president in 2016. Not all local Republicans supported that endorsement. Some wrote letters to the editor in the Orleans Hub, questioning Trump’s moral fitness to be leader of the country.

Morgan said he continues to back Trump in his push for border security and with his success revving up the economy.

The local Republican Party is strong financially and continues to field good candidates, Morgan said.

He offered this advice to Skip Draper in leading the local party:

“Do your thing and don’t try to be me,” Morgan said. “Listen to both sides and don’t have a personal agenda. Our job is to find good candidates who will serve on fiscally sound boards.”

Morgan is pictured with State Sen. Rob Ortt, former State Sen. George Maziarz and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley. Many of the elected officials sought out Morgan for advice on local issues.

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