John H. Cox

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John H. Cox
John H. Cox.jpg
Personal details
John Kaplan

(1955-07-15) July 15, 1955 (age 63)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Other political
Democratic (formerly)
Spouse(s)Sarah Cox
EducationUniversity of Illinois, Chicago
Illinois Institute of Technology

John Herman Cox (born July 15, 1955) is an American accountant, businessman, broadcaster, attorney, politician, and perennial candidate for public office from Illinois. He became a California resident in 2011, and was the Republican candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial election in California, after placing second in the state's June 5 nonpartisan blanket primary.[1] On November 6, 2018 he conceded the election to his Democratic opponent, Gavin Newsom.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born John Kaplan,[3] Cox is the son of Priscilla (Pick) and Albert Kaplan.[4] He has an older half brother, Michael, from his mother's first marriage. Following her divorce from Kaplan, his mother married Thomas Cox, a post office supervisor, who moved the family to the Chicago suburb of Alsip, Illinois. Cox graduated from Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois.[3] He put himself through college by teaching tennis and earned his B.A. degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he majored in accounting and political science. He received his J.D. degree from Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law at night while working days at Coopers & Lybrand as an accountant.[citation needed] He and his first wife, Nancy, divorced.[5] He married his second wife, Sarah. Cox was raised by a Jewish mother.[6] He now practices Catholicism with his family.[7][8]

Business career[edit]

Cox at the 2007 Lincoln Day Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa

In 1981, he founded a law firm specializing in corporate law and tax planning, John H. Cox and Associates. In 1985, he founded Cox Financial Group Ltd., which specializes in investment counseling, income tax planning, retirement planning, and asset protection. Although Cox takes credit for the financial turnaround of the Japp family Chicago potato-chip firm, its owners sued Cox in 1998, alleging financial misconduct, a case that led to Cox paying a $1.7-million settlement in 1999. They claimed that Cox had "engaged in self-dealing; charged excessive and unnecessary fees; misappropriated partnership funds; and violated the partnership agreements and Illinois law,"[citation needed] with regard to their investments in apartment buildings and condos. Cox who had been their financial and legal adviser, as well as the company CEO, characterized it as a "frivolous lawsuit," an attempt by the family to get a more favorable deal in a real estate transaction. He said, "a few investors demanded to be bought out of real estate holdings for an outrageous price, $10 million."[citation needed] He had supplied details of the non-disclosure settlement agreement with the family during divorce proceedings with his former wife, admitting to having compensated the family in exchange for certain limited partnership interests. The majority of the allegations in the suit concerned the more than $2.2 million invested by the family in Illinois real estate partnerships. Cox controlled those ventures, either directly or through his firms, plus providing the partnerships with tax consulting and legal services. By 1997, those investments returned just below 3%, and were worth $1.6 million. The plaintiffs said they received just total of $291,300 in cash distributions over five years and hired a corporate accounting expert, Lee A. Gould, to review the financial records of the real estate partnerships. In a 1998 court affidavit Gould contended that between 1993 and 1996, Cox and his firms charged "unanticipated and undisclosed" fees for management and servicing, far exceeding what had been projected in the partnership agreements: $380,000. Cox "purportedly made approximately $4,000,000 in loans to the limited partnerships," 40% of which did "not have any independent corroboration or verification of any sort to indicate that they were in fact made." Gould contended, "The pattern of self-dealing has caused economic damage to the limited partnerships."[5]

Cox hosted The Progressive Conservative, a twice-weekly bought-time radio talk show on low-wattage WJJG 1530 AM in Chicago.[9] Featuring guests like Michael Moriarty,[10] its themes included criticism of trial lawyers and creation of a website in March 2003 that nominated public figures (such as Janeane Garofalo, Martin Sheen, and Jacques Chirac) as "Friends of Saddam".[11]

Originally a Democrat, Cox became a Republican later on, serving on Jack Kemp's steering committee in 1987.[12][13] At the 2006 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Cox debated the issue of capital punishment. He opposes the death penalty.[14]

Political career[edit]

Illinois political campaigns[edit]

Cox ran for a position as a delegate to the 1976 Democratic National Convention.[15] In 2000, Cox ran for Congress in Illinois's 10th congressional district to replace retiring Congressman John Edward Porter, finishing fifth in the Republican primary race, with 6,339 votes, 10.09%, to former Porter aide Mark Kirk,[16] despite spending half a million dollars on his campaign.[17][18] In 2002, Cox ran for U.S. Senate in Illinois on a conservative platform, aligning himself with Reagan Republicans.[19] He lost the Republican primary with 23% to Jim Durkin. Cox later served as president of the Cook County Republican Party. In 2004, Cox garnered 41.43% of the votes against long-time incumbent Democrat Eugene Moore in the Cook County Recorder of Deeds race.[20] 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 that had become a "model of waste and corruption".[21]

2008 presidential campaign[edit]

On March 9, 2006, Cox announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2008, becoming the first Republican to formally enter the 2008 presidential race.[22] He dropped out of the race later in the year, but did appear on several primary ballots. Cox became a part-time resident of California in 2007, and in 2011 he became a full-time resident of Rancho Santa Fe.[23][24]

Neighborhood Legislature initiative[edit]

Cox authored different versions of the Neighborhood Legislature constitutional amendment initiative but failed to qualify it due to lack of signatures for each of the four consecutive general ballots from 2012 to 2018. The final version was called 'The Low-Cost, New Hampshire-Style Neighborhood Legislature Act' It was inspired by the part-time, 'non-careerist' 400-member New Hampshire Assembly. It would have shrunk each legislator's budget by a third, and imposed a cap on their salaries.[25]

California is Not For Sale initiative[edit]

In 2016, Cox proposed an initiative statute that would require legislators to wear the logos of their top 10 donors on their suits when advocating for policies on the Senate or Assembly floor, much like NASCAR drivers wear sponsors on their race suits.[26] Due to insufficient signatures, it failed to qualify for the general election that year. While the initiative was probably not legal due to a 1940s federal legal finding that politicians could not be forced to publicly reveal display their donors, the intention was to get the voters to be concerned about who the legislators were beholden to, and thereby, just like the Neighborhood Legislature measure, reduce the power of special interest money.[27]

2018 California gubernatorial election[edit]

On March 7, 2017, Cox announced his candidacy for Governor of California in the 2018 election.[28] He garnered the support of 55% of Republican delegates at the spring 2018 California Republican Convention; however, he fell short of the 60% needed for the party's endorsement.[29] Cox has obtained Newt Gingrich's endorsement[30] and the endorsements of eight Republican members of Congress, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Jeff Denham, and Mimi Walters.[30] He is also endorsed by the California ProLife Council.[31]

Cox launched his campaign with the slogan "clean out the barn".[32] Cox promises to bring California low taxes, less business regulation, better infrastructure, and the repeal of the gas tax.

Cox has reportedly contributed $4.4 million to his campaign.[33]

On June 5, 2018, Cox finished second in the top-two nonpartisan blanket primary for Governor of California. He faced Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in the general election.[1] On November 6, 2018 he conceded to his opponent.



Although his perspective has evolved, Cox stated in 2006: "abortion is murder--plain and simple--and that should be regulated by state law."[34]

During the Values Voter presidential debate in 2006, Cox said that he would nominate only judges who are committed to reversing prior court decision where allegedly activist judges "strayed from the judicial role and legislated from the bench." Since embarking on his gubernatorial campaign, Cox has admitted his social policy – at the time – was misguided.[35]

Border wall[edit]

In January 2018, Cox stated he was opposed to the construction of a border wall.[36] Rival GOP gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen has commented that Cox has "flip-flopped" on his position.[37] Cox has since stated that he supports a southern border wall.[38][better source needed]

Death penalty[edit]

Cox has stated that he opposes the death penalty on grounds of his religious commitment to the Roman Catholic Church as well as the financial burden associated with the procedure.[39]

Gas tax repeal[edit]

In 2018, Cox submitted approximately 811,000 signatures in an effort to repeal the 2017 fuel tax increase.[40]

The tax was approved as SB 1 in April 2017 by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The tax took effect November 1, 2017, increasing gasoline by 12 cents a gallon and diesel by 20 cents.[41]

Gay rights[edit]

In February 2018, Cox drew criticism for comments he made in 2007 linking gay rights with transvestism, polygamy, and bestiality. He has said that his views have changed and that he is "looking forward to engaging the LGBTQ community and all Californians to revive the California Dream."[42]

High-speed rail[edit]

Cox is against the construction of the California High-Speed Rail project.[43]


Cox has stated that "I'd like to go to the Portugal system where they actually put people who use marijuana in hospitals and cure them of their substance abuse." He supports medical cannabis.[44]

Relationship with Donald Trump[edit]

Cox did not support Donald Trump during the 2016 United States presidential election, voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson instead. By January 2018 Cox characterized his vote for Johnson as "a mistake".[45] Cox was endorsed by Trump on May 18, 2018[46] and he has been portrayed as Trump's protégé in advertising from Gavin Newsom.[47]

Early in his gubernatorial Campaign, Cox attempted to distance himself from Donald Trump and the Trump administration. When asked about Trump, he stated to Politico " comment. Was that fast enough for you?" [48] While Cox would later reveal he voted for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016, he declined to state whether he had supported Trump during the 2016 election, commenting:

Cox's support for the Libertarian ticket in 2016 and his ambivalence toward President Trump has drawn criticism of his views as aligning with the Never Trumper movement.[50]

President Trump endorsed John Cox on May 19, 2018 via Twitter stating "California finally deserves a great Governor, one who understands borders, crime and lowering taxes".[46] His daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, has also endorsed him.[51] On May 28, 2018, Trump tweeted a further endorsement of Cox as "...a really good and highly competent man".[52]

Separation of church and state[edit]

During a campaign event in 2008, Cox proclaimed: "There is no separation of church and state in the Constitution." While he has changed his position on this issue, it has allowed Cox's opponents to paint his past views as radical and strange in nature.[53]


  1. ^ a b Joe Garofoli (June 5, 2018). "Gavin Newsom, John Cox to face off in fall CA governor's race". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  2. ^ FoxNews, "Gavin Newsom wins California's governor's race, John Cox concedes" Nov 6, 2018 [1]
  3. ^ a b John Cox’s claim that he was raised by a ‘single mother on the South Side of Chicago’. The Washington Post.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Candidate for California governor John Cox was sued for alleged financial misconduct, court documents show, Los Angeles Times, Phil Willon, August 31, 2018. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  6. ^
  7. ^ O'Brien, Nancy Frazier (2008-01-18). "The incredible shrinking field of Catholic presidential candidates". Washington Letter. Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  8. ^ Labash, Matt (2007-05-21). "The Sane Fringe Candidate". Weekly Standard. 12 (34). Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  9. ^ Feder, Robert (2003-07-22). "Talk show hosts aim for U.S. Senate". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2007-12-08. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  10. ^ "Michael Moriarty Unofficial, Unauthorized, Unsanctioned Home Page". 2005-09-21. Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  11. ^ "Progressive Conservative Radio Program Launches Friends of Saddam Website". Business Wire. 2003-03-23. Archived from the original on 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  12. ^ CBS47 KSEE24 (30 April 2018). "Travis Allen and John Cox debate conservatism" – via YouTube.
  13. ^ Jenkins, Logan. "Local candidate for governor hopes to carry GOP flag".
  14. ^ "John Cox Death Penalty". C-SPAN. February 11, 2006.
  15. ^ John Cox Biography, Ballotpedia. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  16. ^ FEC.Gov Public Records Federal Election 2000, Illinois House, Federal Elections Commission, (Archived March 28, 2008). Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  17. ^ Kirk, Rush fend off strong ballot challenges, Chicago Tribune, Susan Kuczka and Flynn McRoberts, March 22, 2000. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  18. ^ Election Results General Primary, Illinois State Board of Elections, March 21, 2000. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  19. ^ Sweet, Lynn, "Left to Chance: Republicans won’t get a double punch at the top of the ticket in November", NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS, January 1, 2002. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  20. ^ "Suburban Cook County Election Results". Cook County Election Department. Archived from the original on September 4, 2008. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  21. ^ "Republican Candidate – John Cox". Archived from the original on 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
  22. ^ Tabor, Nathan, and Kouri, Jim (2006-05-04). "Election 2008: First Republican Announces Presidential Run". Renew America. Retrieved 2008-08-16.
  23. ^ Marinucci, Carla (March 7, 2017). "GOP businessman John Cox enters CA governor's race, but stays mum on Trump". Washington, DC.
  24. ^ Tash, Joe (May 8, 2018). "RSF businessman's fortunes rise in governor's race". Rancho Santa Fe Review. Rancho Santa Fe, CA.
  25. ^ Myers, John (6 February 2018). "Republican John Cox's effort to create 12,000 'neighborhood' lawmakers in California fails to make the ballot". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  26. ^ Weber, Joseph (April 6, 2016). "California initiative calls for pols to wear NASCAR-style donor logos". Fox News. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  27. ^ Mason, Melanie (May 31, 2018). "Before John Cox was Trump's choice for governor, he was on a quixotic mission to remake California's Legislature". LA Times. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  28. ^ Panzar, Javier. "Republican John Cox enters race for California governor".
  29. ^ Koseff, Alexei (May 6, 2018). "California Republican activists favor John Cox for governor but remain divided". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  30. ^ a b "Endorsements". Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  31. ^ "California ProLife PAC Endorsements 2018".
  32. ^ Mehta, Seema (30 January 2018). "Republican John Cox to launch first TV ad of governor's race before Trump's State of the Union address". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  33. ^ Wildermuth, John (25 May 2018). "John Cox, CA's top GOP candidate for governor, is hard up for campaign cash". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  34. ^ Willon, Phil (7 July 2018). "Abortion debate surfaces in California governor's race". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  35. ^ "Values Voters Presidential Debate". ontheissues. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  36. ^ Almada, Jorge Morales. "John Cox, un empresario que al igual que Trump quiere "drenar el pantano"". Univision.
  37. ^ Stone, Ken (5 May 2018). "Governor Rivals Embrace Trump, Battle for GOP Backing at San Diego Convention". Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  38. ^ "Watch John Cox debate border wall, immigration policy".
  39. ^ "5 of 6 candidates for California governor oppose death penalty".
  40. ^ Panzar, Javier (30 April 2018). "John Cox begins California barnstorm with the delivery of gas tax repeal signatures". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  41. ^ McGreevy, Patrick. "Republicans hope to ride a gas-tax repeal to victory".
  42. ^ Mehta, Seema. "GOP candidate for California governor John Cox once linked gay rights to polygamy, bestiality".
  43. ^ Johnson, Jessica (27 September 2018). "High-speed rail is 'biggest point of departure' between gubernatorial candidates, Cox says". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  44. ^ Stewart, Joshua. "California governor candidate says pot addicts should be hospitalized, not incarcerated". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  45. ^ Mehta, Seema (5 January 2018). "Republican candidates for California governor spar over support for Trump in their first debate". LA Times. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  46. ^ a b Trump Likes Cox. In:, 19 May 2018.
  47. ^ Stewart, Joshua (27 May 2018). "Sitting in second place, governor candidate John Cox gets a hand up from frontrunner, pulled down by straggler". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  48. ^ "Rendon boosts Chiang – De Leon faces backlash over immigrant talk – COX plots run for governor". Politico.
  49. ^ "Republican businessman John Cox enters 2018 governor's race".
  50. ^ "Fireworks Erupts Between California GOP Candidates For Governor". 25 May 2018.
  51. ^ Mehta, Steema (25 May 2018). "Trump's daughter-in-law touts his endorsement of John Cox for California governor in new video". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  52. ^ Morrongiello, Gabby (28 May 2018). "'A rare opportunity': Trump urges Californians to back Republican John Cox". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  53. ^ Gargill, David (February 2008). "Not What It Takes". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved 31 October 2018.

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