A Rancho Santa Fe venture capitalist with way too much money and zero chance of winning, today declared himself a Republican candidate for governor.
Rumored for a while, John Cox, 61, became the first Republican to declare for the 2018 governor’s race. He has run for office three times and lost three times. One of those losses came as a candidate for President — of the United States — in 2007-8.
Cox issued his announcement via Facebook with a video you see below this paragraph. “There are two Californias,” he said, “the one we have, and the one we could have. The California we have is in trouble, and we need to do something about it,”
Thanks to Proposition 14 passed in 2010, California now features statewide and congressional “blanket primaries” in which the top two finishers go on the November election regardless of party affiliation.
So, Cox, faces a formidable task considering his high-powered and well-known Democratic opponents who already have declared. Count in that number former Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Treasurer John Chiang, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin.
Aside from that well-known quartet, Cox faces the challenge that the Republican Party hardly exists in California anymore. Only 26 percent of state voters are registered Republican.
And Cox could very well face another Republican. One with way more name recognition — Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder — was rumored to be interested although publicly has denied it. Former Kennedy aide and Los Angeles Ram star Rosie Greer also has declared as a Republican.
Perhaps to the good, Cox actually never has lost a California election. He lost three times in his native Illinois and moved to Rancho Santa Fe in 2009. One of those losses was epic. That would be 2003 when he lost a Senate run to an obscure state legislature and former community organizer — Barack Obama.
Cox rode in on the statewide political rodeo circuit last year spending $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.
Sorry Charlie, the measure couldn’t qualify for the ballot.
If nothing else, Cox is persistent. In 2014, he tried to put a measure on the ballot to create a “neighborhood legislature.”
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. 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.
In conjunction with his 2018 governor’s run, Cox said he intended to try to get that neighborhood legislature program on the ballot.
“I know that’s what my opponents are going to try to say,” Cox said in a Tuesday Chronicle interview, “but it actually will save more than $100 million,” pointing to a nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office report on a previous neighborhood legislature measure that failed to qualify for the ballot.
Cox said he was not completely self-funding his campaign. A venture capitalist who is an attorney and certified public accountant, Cox kicked off his campaign with $1 million of how own funds. However, he insisted his campaign would not be self-financed solely.
Cox is married and has four daughters. He said he was self-made,raised by a single mom. “I’m not going to apologize for being successful,” he said.
Somewhat confusing for someone who has declared for high public office, Cox was evasive in answers to political equations. He wouldn’t say if he voted for Donald Trump.
I know my opponents will try to tie me to Mr. Trump. I am not Mr. Trump,” Cox said to the Chronicle. “I’m analytical, I’m policy-oriented. I read five newspapers a day. I’m not a reality TV star that’s going to insult people. I’m going to try to rally people.”
Cox wouldn’t state his position on same-sex marriage or abortion rights. “That’s not what I’m running on at all,” he said.
Whatever, it’s a long shot at best. “Californians have no idea who he is,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego.
Writing “Why I am running for President,” for an online media source in September 2007, Cox said, “Conservative Republicans have for too long been taken for granted and worse, taken for fools by our elected leaders. We have had too many say they were conservative when they wanted our votes; only to watch them almost turn into liberals once they were elected.”
Cox added: “I could have taken the $1 million I have spent running for President, given it to ten different charities and been their man of the year if all I was interested in was ego boosting. That is not what I am about…
“I understand that government has grown so large, so all encompassing, so much a part of our existence that the small difference I could make in the charitable or civic world would be dwarfed by what I could accomplish by leadership in government.”