Jack Cox (Texas)

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Jack M. Cox
Texas State Representative from District 108 in Stephens County
In office
1946–1952
Personal details
Born (1921-08-20)August 20, 1921
Stephens County, Texas, USA
Died April 27, 1990(1990-04-27) (aged 68)
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (1961)
Residence Houston, Texas

San Jose, Costa Rica

Alma mater University of North Texas
Profession Oilfield equipment manufacturer

Jack M. Cox (August 20, 1921–April 27, 1990)[1] was an oil equipment executive from Houston and the 1962 Republican gubernatorial nominee in the state of Texas.

Early years[edit]

Cox was born in or near Breckenridge, the county seat of Stephens County in West Texas. He graduated from the University of North Texas at Denton. He was a veteran of World War II. From 1947-1953, he served as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives from District 108, which included Stephens County.[2][3]

Opposing Price Daniel, 1960[edit]

In 1960, Cox, a "Shivercrat" ally of former Governor Allan Shivers, challenged the three-term governor, Marion Price Daniel, Sr., of Liberty in southeastern Texas. Daniel was a veteran officeholder, having been a U.S. senator from 1953-1957. His wife and son, Price Daniel, Jr., were direct descendants of the legendary Sam Houston, first president of the Republic of Texas. Cox polled 619,834 votes (40.5 percent) in the Democrat primary, as Daniel prevailed with 908,992 votes (59.5 percent).[4] After defeating Cox, Daniel overwhelmed the Republican nominee, William M. Steger, a Dallas native who was later a U.S. District Court judge, appointed by U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. The federal courthouse in downtown Tyler is named for Steger.[5]

In 1962, Daniel was eliminated in the primary for a fourth two-year term. John B. Connally, Jr., the former U.S. Navy secretary in the John F. Kennedy administration, waged the most active campaign of several Texas Democrats who challenged Daniel. For the primary alone, Connally traveled more than 22,000 miles, delivered forty-three major speeches, and appeared on various statewide and local telecasts.[6] In a closely matched runoff election, Connally defeated Don Yarborough, a liberal attorney from Houston, who carried the backing of organized labor.[6]

1962 governor's race[edit]

Cox ran for governor again in 1962, this time as a convert to the Republican Party. In the GOP primary, he handily defeated Roy Robert Whittenburg, Sr. (1913–1980), a rancher, banker, and newspaper publisher from Amarillo, who had also been the unsuccessful nominee against U.S. Senator Ralph W. Yarborough (no relation to Don Yarborough) in the 1958 general election. Cox faced John Connally, only a year-and-a-half since John G. Tower, then of Wichita Falls, had become the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas since Reconstruction.

In his memoirs Consequences, John Tower terms Cox:

...an attractive, spirited campaigner [who faced in Connally] a political heavyweight, who was quick and deadly when it came to one-on-one slugging. It occurred to me that should Connally be elected, he would probably serve four years as governor and then challenge me for the Senate seat in 1966, a contest I might not survive. ... However, our timetables never coincided. Connally served three two-year terms as governor and returned to Washington as treasury secretary in 1971. He ultimately switched parties and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980.

Despite Connally's effectiveness, Jack Cox refused to roll over and play dead. His principal campaign strategy was to exploit the LBJ issue, and he used the slogan 'Lyndon's Boy, John' to describe Connally. Cox kept hitting Connally for his close ties to Johnson and, by extension, his connection to the Kennedys. LBJ and "Lyndon's boy, John" had sold out the South, he declared at every opportunity.[7]

Cox indeed at times seemed to be running more against Vice President Johnson than Connally. In Tyler, he retorted: "Six flags have flown over Texas ... but we are determined that the seventh flag of LBJ will not fly over the capitol at Austin."[8]

[Tower recalls the] Cox campaign as gutsy, but not enough to change the outcome. And Kennedy's soaring popularity after the Cuban missile crisis made matters worse. Still, Cox ran strongly enough to give some help to other Republicans on the ticket. None of our statewide candidates survived, but six of the Dallas County state legislative seats went Republican. Bruce Alger retained his place in the U.S. House by twenty thousand votes, and Ed Foreman scored a major breakthrough by taking the Sixteenth Congressional District in West Texas. ..."[7]

Some Democratic liberals refused to support Connally in 1962, and Cox hoped to exploit that weakness, as Tower had done in his 1961 special election runoff against appointed Senator William Blakley of Dallas.[9] The Connally-Cox race was surprisingly close even though the political establishment and most of the state's newspapers supported Connally, who prevailed, 847,036 (54 percent) to 715,025 (45.6 percent). A Constitution Party candidate (not the current national Constitution Party), Jack Carswell (died 1996), polled 7,135 votes (.4 of 1 percent). Cox carried 55 of the 254 counties, including two of the most populous, his own Harris County and Dallas County. O.W. "Bill" Hayes of Temple, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor against Democrat Preston Smith, a state senator and theater owner from Lubbock who had been reared in Lamesa in Dawson County, trailed Cox's losing total by more than 100,000 ballots, having received 612,568 votes and victory in 16 counties.[8] Hayes was a motivational author best known for his 1959 publication Your Memory: How to Use Untapped Memory Resources.[10]

Ironically, Connally derided Cox for having switched parties, something Connally himself did eleven years later after the death of Lyndon Johnson and at the height of Watergate, when he lent his support to President Nixon.[11] Connally admitted that Texas Republicans in 1962 were better organized at the precinct level than the majority Democrats: "The Republicans worked hard, while the Democrats did not get busy until the final weeks."[12]

Despite Cox's relatively impressive showing for a Republican candidate in an historically Democratic state, he received only 95,191 more votes in the 1962 general election than he had in the 1960 Democratic primary.

U.S. Senate primary, 1964[edit]

In 1964, Cox ran for the U.S. Senate. His main primary opponent was oilman George Herbert Walker Bush, a Massachusetts native then residing in Houston and the son of former U.S. Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut. The Texas Senate seat was held by Democrat Ralph Yarborough. Also in the running was Robert J. Morris, a New Jersey native, a staunchly anti-communist crusader, and a former president of the University of Dallas. Barbara Pierce Bush, in her memoir, said that she found primary campaigns distasteful because the candidates undermine each other and provide fodder for the opposition in the general election. She then accused Cox of engaging in "harangue" at one pre-election appearance.[13]

Barbara Bush claimed that the John Birch Society was behind much of the opposition to her husband for the senatorial nomination. The opponents, she claimed, unfairly discounted his conservative political principles. Most JBS members supported either Cox or Morris and considered Bush a "tool of the eastern establishment" kingmakers, who had practically chosen all Republican presidential nominees since the 1930s. Cox and Morris emphasized their support for the insurgent presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, whom Bush also later endorsed. However, the JBS claimed that Bush was really sympathetic to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, of New York, Goldwater's principal challenger for the nomination and the epitome of eastern elitism. Some Republican partisans chided Bush as insufficiently Texan in demeanor and manner. Bush advisors suggested that their candidate wear a cowboy hat to fit more firmly into the state's western culture, but Bush rejected the notion as a "gimmick."[13]

Barbara Bush in her memoir characterizes her husband as a "fiscal conservative and a social liberal," noting that her eastern friends called him "too conservative" and some Texas Republicans found him "too liberal."[13]

In the first primary, Bush led with 62,985 votes (44.1 percent) to Cox's 45,561 (31.9 percent) and Morris' 28,279 (19.8 percent). A fourth candidate, thoracic surgeon Milton Davis, polled the remaining 4.2 percent of the ballots. In the lower-turnout runoff to guarantee a majority nominee, Bush handily prevailed, 49,751 (62.1 percent) to Cox's 30,333 (37.9 percent). Cox then endorsed Bush and never again sought office. Bush was also the choiced of the then influential state party chairman Peter O'Donnell of Dallas. Though he waged an energetic campaign, Bush still lost the 1964 general election to Yarborough, as Cox's particular political nemesis, Lyndon Johnson, swept to victory over Barry Goldwater for a full term in office, by wide margins both nationally and in Texas.[14]

Exile to Costa Rica[edit]

From 1966-1972, Cox had apparently left the oil equipment business, for he was then the manager of the Forty Acres Club, a hotel-restaurant and political gathering spot in Austin. In September 1972, the club was sold for $800,000 to the University of Texas at Austin. Cox was saddled with civil court judgments in excess of $120,000, one of which was a $55,000 debt owed to Mike Butler, a brick manufacturer in Austin. The money had been borrowed to purchase stock in the Forty Acres Club. Other large judgments against Cox were $47,000 owed to the Capital National Bank in Austin and $258,500 to the Dallas Bank and Trust Company. Cox thereafter left Austin for San Jose, Costa Rica. Twice a year he journeyed to the Panama Canal Zone to renew his residency papers. Also in San Jose at the time was the fugitive financier Robert Vesco. Cox was reportedly still living in San Jose in the fall of 1976.[15]

The author has been unable to determine Cox's presence from 1977 until his death in 1990 at the age of sixty-eight. Nor can he find information on Cox's family, branch of military service, church affiliation, place and cause of death, or interment site.

Cox's political papers from 1950-1964 are housed at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas.[2]

Election results[edit]

1962 Texas Republican Gubernatorial Primary.
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jack Cox 99,170 86%
Republican Roy Whittenburg 16,136 14%
1962 Texas Gubernatorial Election.
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Connally 847,038 54%
Republican Jack Cox 715,025 45.6%
Constitution Jack Carswell 7,135 0.4%
1964 Texas Republican Senate Primary.
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican George Herbert Walker Bush 62,985 44%
Republican Jack Cox 45,561 31.9%
Republican Robert J. Morris 28,279 19.8%
Republican Milton Davis 6,067 4.2%
1964 Texas Republican Senate Primary Run-off.
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican George Herbert Walker Bush 49,751 62.1%
Republican Jack Cox 30,333 37.9%

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved October 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "A Guide to the Jack Cox Papers, 1950-1964". lib.utexas.edu. Retrieved October 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Jack Cox". lrl.state.tx.us. Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ Congressional Quarterly Press's Guide to U.S. Elections, Vol. 2, 6th edition, Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2010, p. 1722
  5. ^ Tyler Morning Telegraph, June 5, 2006
  6. ^ a b "Nation: Talking in Texas". time.com. April 27, 1962. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b John G. Tower, Consequences: A Personal and Political Memoir, Canada: Little, Brown Company, 1991, pp. 165-166, ISBN 0-316-85113-2
  8. ^ a b Ashman, p. 22.
  9. ^ Tower, Consequences, p. 21
  10. ^ "Your Memory (New York City: Exposition Press, 1959)". google.com. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  11. ^ Ashman, p. 5.
  12. ^ Ashman, p. 23.
  13. ^ a b c Barbara Bush: A Memoir. books.google.com. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  14. ^ Congressional Quarterly Press's Guide to U.S. Elections, Vol. 2, 6th edition, Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2010, p. 1541
  15. ^ "Reporter". Texas Monthly (books.google.com). October 1976. p. 100. Retrieved October 3, 2010. 

Sources[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
William Steger
Republican gubernatorial nominee in Texas

Jack M. Cox
1962

Succeeded by
Jack Crichton