Republican John Cox got laughed out of Illinois following a long string of political clown acts including losses for just about every major political office available, including Congress and the Senate. His final joke there was his 2006 first-person-in the 2008 presidential race, followed by his first-person-out disappearing act in 2007.
Cox, 63, moved to Rancho Santa Fe in 2011. Not missing a beat in the Bizarro World of politics, he failed four times due to lack of signatures from 2012 to 2016 to get a “Neighborhood Legislature” amendment on the California ballot.
This was intended to divide state Assembly and Senate districts into smaller subsets. Each assembly member would represent 5,000 people while senators would represent 10,000 people. Cox said it would remove the incentive for legislators to spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising and currying favor with monied interests, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
California has around 40 million residents now. Do the math.
Cox’s grand scheme would mean 4,000 state senators and 8,000 state representatives. Where would they possibly meet, Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings?
Cox then spent $1 million on a proposed ballot measure that would have required legislators to wear the corporate logos of their top 10 donors when advocating for a measure in the Legislature. Surprise? The measure couldn’t qualify for the ballot.
Due to the “jungle primary” method for nominating candidates in a June Primary, Cox advanced to the Nov. 6 election against Gavin Newsom. Spoiler alert: Newsom got 61.9 percent of the vote to Cox’s 38.1 percent of the vote.
Say what one will about Cox’s self-financed campaign for governor. That vote total represented the best he’s ever done in an election.
A Cox’s Tale
Cox and Newsom may not have agreed on much, but they had at least five things in common: Both were divorced from their first wives, both had four children, both were raised for a time by a single mother, both engaged in athletics to help pay for college and both are multimillionaires.
Cox has had a very successful career in business. In politics, not so much.
He put himself through college by teaching tennis and earned his degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he majored in accounting and political science. He received his juris doctor degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology at night while working at Coopers & Lybrand as an accountant during the day. (Newsom attended Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship.)
Cox is a lawyer, certified public accountant and venture capitalist whose net worth is said to exceed $200 million. He is the founder of Equity Property Management and Cox Financial Group Limited.
Cox’s political career, however, has been a series of failures.
In 2002, Cox ran for U.S. Senate in Illinois on a conservative platform, aligning himself with Reagan Republicans. He lost the Republican primary to Jim Durkin. Cox later served as president of the Cook County, Illinois, Republican Party.
In 2004, Cox garnered 41.43 percent of the votes in losing against longtime incumbent Democrat Eugene Moore in the Cook County Recorder of Deeds race. Cox said he decided to run for the office in order to eliminate the position; he saw the office as an unnecessary duplication of services.
Cox for governor?
On March 7, 2017, Cox announced his candidacy for governor of California in the 2018 election. He fell just short (55 percent) of gaining the necessary 60 percent to win the Republican Party endorsement at the spring 2018 convention.
Cox’s policy positions were for the most part conventional Republican. He boasted that he was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. He is endorsed by Donald Trump endorsed him, saying, Cox would “Make California Great Again.” Cox opposes abortion. Cox also maintains that there is no constitutional provision for the separation of church and state.
Cox pinned his hopes on Proposition 6, the campaign to repeal the state’s gas tax approved last year to fund road repairs and public transportation. He hoped that the repeal campaign would fire up enough Republican voters that the Cox campaign would punch above its weight and win. San Diego’s right-wing man about town Carl DeMaio headed the Prop 6 campaign.
Alas, like all of Cox’ schemes, that hope went up in smoke. California voters rejected Prop 6 by a margin of 56.8 percent to 43.2 percent.
Cox’s sort-of concession speech was a real hoot, too, but what one would come to expect from Rancho Santa Fe’s ode to defeat.
Ah, the Cox for California governor era ended fittingly with a whimper, not a bang. Bye, Felicia, er, John…
Story by Grapevine editor Dan Weisman and Chuck McFadden of Capitol Weekly, a publication of non-profit, nonpartisan Open California.