John H. Cox

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John H. Cox
John H. Cox.jpg
Cox in 2017
Personal details
John Kaplan

(1955-07-15) July 15, 1955 (age 67)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (2000–present)
Other political
Democratic (before 2000)
Spouse(s)Nancy (divorced)
Sarah Cox
EducationUniversity of Illinois, Chicago
Illinois Institute of Technology
WebsiteCampaign website

John Herman Cox ( Kaplan; born July 15, 1955) is an American businessman, housing developer, and political activist, who has run for public office several times, mostly recently for Governor of California as a Republican Party candidate.[1][2]

Cox began his political career as a Democrat, as he ran to be a delegate to that party's 1976 National Convention[citation needed]. He later became a Republican in Illinois, running for a congressional seat in 2000, United States Senate in 2002, Cook County Recorder of Deeds in 2004, and President of the United States in 2008.

After moving to California, he proposed the California is not for Sale initiative to combat corruption. Cox became the Republican nominee in the 2018 California gubernatorial election, after placing second in the state's June 5 nonpartisan blanket primary.[3] On November 6, 2018, he lost to Democrat Gavin Newsom in the state’s biggest gubernatorial landslide since 1950.[4][5] Cox was a candidate in the unsuccessful 2021 California gubernatorial recall election, placing 5th with a total of 4.4% of the vote.

Early life[edit]

Born John Kaplan,[6] Cox is the son of Priscilla (Pick) and Albert Kaplan.[7] He has an older half brother, Michael, from his mother's first marriage. Following her divorce from his biological father, his mother married Thomas Cox, a post office supervisor, who adopted him and moved the family to the Chicago suburb of Alsip, Illinois. Cox graduated from Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois.[6] 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 the Illinois Institute of Technology's 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.[8] He married his second wife, Sarah. Cox was raised by a Jewish mother.[9] He now practices Catholicism with his family.[10][11]

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 was settled on August 24, 1999 when Cox purchased from the plaintiffs real estate interests he considered worth $3 million for $1.7 million -- from his viewpoint, a favorable settlement).[8]

Political career[edit]

Early political involvement[edit]

Cox hosted The Progressive Conservative, a twice-weekly bought-time radio talk show on low-wattage WJJG 1530 AM in Chicago.[12] Featuring guests like Michael Moriarty,[13] 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".[14]

Cox became a Republican later on, serving on Jack Kemp's steering committee in 1987. He later served as President of the Cook County Republican Party. [15][16] At the 2006 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Cox debated the issue of capital punishment as an opponent of the death penalty.[17]

Illinois political campaigns[edit]

Cox ran for a position as a delegate to the 1976 Democratic National Convention.[18] 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,[19] despite spending half a million dollars on his campaign.[20][21] In 2002, Cox ran for U.S. Senate in Illinois on a conservative platform, aligning himself with Reagan Republicans.[22] He lost the Republican primary with 23%, placing third behind Jim Durkin and Jim Oberweis.

In 2004, Cox garnered 29.26% of the votes against incumbent Democrat Eugene Moore in the Cook County Recorder of Deeds race.[23][24][25] Cox said he decided to run for the office to eliminate the position; he saw the office as an unnecessary duplication of services that had become a "model of waste and corruption".[26]

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.[27] 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.[28][29]

Proposed initiatives[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.[30]

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.[31] 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 reveal or display their donors publicly, 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.[32]

2018 California gubernatorial election[edit]

California Gubernatorial Candidate John Cox tours a homeless shelter in San Diego, California

On March 7, 2017, Cox announced his candidacy for Governor of California in the 2018 election.[33] He garnered the support of 55% of Republican delegates at the spring 2018 California Republican Convention, but fell short of the 60% needed for the party's endorsement.[34] Cox obtained the endorsements of Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump. Cox also received endorsements from eight Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Jeff Denham, and Mimi Walters,[35] as well as by the National Right to Life Committee.[36]

Cox launched his campaign with the slogan "clean out the barn".[37] Cox promised to bring California low taxes, less business regulation, better infrastructure, and repeal of the gas tax. Cox reportedly contributed $4.4 million to his own campaign.[38]

On June 5, 2018, Cox finished second in the top-two nonpartisan blanket primary for Governor of California. In the general election that November, he lost to Democratic nominee and incumbent Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who won by roughly 24 points.[3]

2021 California recall election[edit]

John Cox at 2021 UTLA Protest

With speculation rising of a potential recall election to recall Newsom, Cox donated $50,000 to the California Patriot Coalition in support of the recall of his former opponent.[39][40][41]

On April 26, 2021, the recall effort was announced to have enough signatures to qualify for a ballot effort. On May 4, 2021, Cox began his campaign in the recall election to replace Newsom as governor, branding himself as "the beast", running against "beauty".[42]

While running again for governor in 2021, Cox was served with a subpoena during a live debate on August 17. The subpoena by a San Diego County court was for an alleged failure to pay a debt of about $100,000 from the 2018 gubernatorial campaign. Cox deemed the case frivolous, and it went away as Cox was not legally liable for any debts to the plaintiff. [43]

2022 California gubernatorial election[edit]

In September 2020, Cox launched an exploratory committee for a 2022 gubernatorial run.[44] On February 8, 2021, Cox announced his second run for governor.[45][46]

Political positions[edit]

Cox began his political career as a moderate Democrat, but has become known for his positions as a conservative Republican. Cox holds a consistent life ethic, being strongly opposed to both abortion and the death penalty. He has taken other socially conservative positions, including opposing gay rights and the separation between church and state, while supporting the construction of a border wall. On economic issues, he opposes the gas tax and California's high speed rail proposal.


Although his perspective has evolved, citing the fact that he is a Catholic, Cox has said that he is pro-life. [47]

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."[48]

Border wall[edit]

In January 2018, Cox stated he was opposed to the construction of a border wall.[49] Rival GOP gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen has commented that Cox has "flip-flopped" on his position.[50] Cox has since stated that he supports a southern border wall.[51][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.[52]

Donald Trump[edit]

Cox did not support Donald Trump during the 2016 United States presidential election, voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson instead. Cox's support for the Libertarian ticket in 2016 and his ambivalence toward President Trump drew criticism from some Republicans as aligning with the Never Trumper movement.[53] By January 2018, Cox characterized his vote for Johnson as "a mistake", but did not indicate who he would have voted for instead.[54] Cox attempted to distance himself from Donald Trump during his gubernatorial campaign; when asked about Trump, he stated to Politico " comment. Was that fast enough for you?" [55]

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".[56] Advertising from Gavin Newsom's campaign portrayed Cox as Trump's protégé.[57] On May 28, 2018, Trump tweeted a further endorsement of Cox as "...a really good and highly competent man".[58] The president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, endorsed Cox in the gubernatorial election as well.[59]

Gas tax repeal[edit]

In 2018, Cox submitted approximately 811,000 signatures in an effort to repeal the 2017 fuel tax increase.[60]

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.[61]

LGBTQ 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."[62]

High-speed rail[edit]

Cox is against the construction of the California High-Speed Rail project.[63]


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.[64]

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."[65]

Electoral history[edit]

US Senate[edit]

2002 Illinois U.S. Senate Republican primary[66]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Durkin 378,010 45.81%
Republican Jim Oberweis 259,515 31.45%
Republican John H. Cox 187,706 22.74%
Total votes 825,231 100%

Cook County Recorder of Deeds[edit]

2004 Cook County Recorder of Deeds Republican primary[67][68]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John H. Cox 117,731 100
Total votes 117,731 100
2004 Cook County Recorder of Deeds election[69][70]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Eugene "Gene" Moore (incumbent) 1,283,762 70.74
Republican John H. Cox 530,945 29.26
Total votes 1,814,707 100

California Governor[edit]

2018 California gubernatorial non-partisan blanket primary[71]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Gavin Newsom 2,343,792 33.7%
Republican John H. Cox 1,766,488 25.4%
Democratic Antonio Villaraigosa 926,394 13.3%
Republican Travis Allen 658,798 9.5%
Democratic John Chiang 655,920 9.4%
Democratic Delaine Eastin 234,869 3.4%
Democratic Amanda Renteria 93,446 1.3%
Republican Robert C. Newman II 44,674 0.6%
Democratic Michael Shellenberger 31,692 0.5%
Republican Peter Y. Liu 27,336 0.4%
Republican Yvonne Girard 21,840 0.3%
Peace and Freedom Gloria La Riva 19,075 0.3%
Democratic J. Bribiesca 18,586 0.3%
Green Josh Jones 16,131 0.2%
Libertarian Zoltan Istvan 14,462 0.2%
Democratic Albert Caesar Mezzetti 12,026 0.2%
Libertarian Nickolas Wildstar 11,566 0.2%
Democratic Robert Davidson Griffis 11,103 0.2%
Democratic Akinyemi Agbede 9,380 0.1%
Democratic Thomas Jefferson Cares 8,937 0.1%
Green Christopher N. Carlson 7,302 0.1%
Democratic Klement Tinaj 5,368 0.1%
No party preference Hakan "Hawk" Mikado 5,346 0.1%
No party preference Johnny Wattenburg 4,973 0.1%
No party preference Desmond Silveira 4,633 0.1%
No party preference Shubham Goel 4,020 0.1%
No party preference Jeffrey Edward Taylor 3,973 0.1%
Green Veronika Fimbres (write-in) 62 0.0%
No party preference Arman Soltani (write-in) 32 0.0%
No party preference Peter Crawford Valentino (write-in) 21 0.0%
Republican K. Pearce (write-in) 8 0.0%
No party preference Armando M. Arreola (write-in) 1 0.0%
Total votes 6,862,254 100%
2018 California gubernatorial election[72]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Gavin Newsom 7,721,410 61.95%
Republican John H. Cox 4,742,825 38.05%
Total votes 12,464,235 100%


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  2. ^ "Republican Cox opens run for governor with ad hitting rival". AP NEWS. February 8, 2021.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Brown, Willie (June 9, 2018). "Gavin Newsom strolling into California governor's job? John Cox may surprise".
  5. ^ FoxNews, "Gavin Newsom wins California's governor's race, John Cox concedes" Nov 6, 2018 [1]
  6. ^ a b John Cox’s claim that he was raised by a ‘single mother on the South Side of Chicago’. The Washington Post.
  7. ^ "Priscilla Pick Mcginty Cox Marries Albert Kaplan January 1955".
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Christopher, Ben (October 10, 2018). "Eternal optimist: John Cox, distruster of politicians, keeps bidding to become one". Calmatters.
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  16. ^ Jenkins, Logan (November 30, 2017). "Local candidate for governor hopes to carry GOP flag".
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  19. ^ FEC.Gov Public Records Federal Election 2000, Illinois House, Federal Elections Commission, (Archived March 28, 2008). Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  20. ^ Kirk, Rush fend off strong ballot challenges, Chicago Tribune, Susan Kuczka and Flynn McRoberts, March 22, 2000. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
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  27. ^ Tabor, Nathan, and Kouri, Jim (May 4, 2006). "Election 2008: First Republican Announces Presidential Run". Renew America. Retrieved August 16, 2008.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ Marinucci, Carla (March 7, 2017). "GOP businessman John Cox enters CA governor's race, but stays mum on Trump". Washington, DC.
  29. ^ Tash, Joe (May 8, 2018). "RSF businessman's fortunes rise in governor's race". Rancho Santa Fe Review. Rancho Santa Fe, CA.
  30. ^ Myers, John (February 6, 2018). "Republican John Cox's effort to create 12,000 'neighborhood' lawmakers in California fails to make the ballot". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  31. ^ Weber, Joseph (April 6, 2016). "California initiative calls for pols to wear NASCAR-style donor logos". Fox News. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ Panzar, Javier. "Republican John Cox enters race for California governor".
  34. ^ Koseff, Alexei (May 6, 2018). "California Republican activists favor John Cox for governor but remain divided". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  35. ^ "Endorsements". Archived from the original on November 19, 2018. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  36. ^ "California ProLife PAC Endorsements 2018".
  37. ^ Mehta, Seema (January 30, 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 May 29, 2018.
  38. ^ Wildermuth, John (May 25, 2018). "John Cox, CA's top GOP candidate for governor, is hard up for campaign cash". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  39. ^ Recall California Governor Gavin Newsom
  40. ^ The Independent - "With his star dimmed, California's Newsom could face recall"
  41. ^ Fox 11 Los Angeles - "Recall effort against California Gov. Newsom gaining momentum"
  42. ^ "Caitlyn Jenner calls herself a 'compassionate disruptor,' John Cox brands himself 'the beast' in their 1st campaign ads for recall election". KTLA. May 4, 2021.
  43. ^ Meeks, Alexandra; Stracqualursi, Veronica (August 18, 2021). "California GOP recall candidate served with subpoena during debate". CNN.
  44. ^ Fox 11 Los Angeles - "John Cox launches exploratory committee to challenge Gavin Newsom in 2022: 'The state is in crisis'"
  45. ^ Schuster, Kat. "John Cox Enters CA Governor's Race With Ad That Slams Rivals". Yahoo! News. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  46. ^ Gieseke, Winston. "In California: Republican John Cox opens run for governor with ad slamming party rival". Yahoo! News. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  47. ^ Willon, Phil (July 7, 2018). "Abortion debate surfaces in California governor's race". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  48. ^ "Values Voters Presidential Debate". ontheissues. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  49. ^ Almada, Jorge Morales. "John Cox, un empresario que al igual que Trump quiere "drenar el pantano"". Univision.
  50. ^ Stone, Ken (May 5, 2018). "Governor Rivals Embrace Trump, Battle for GOP Backing at San Diego Convention". Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  51. ^ "Watch John Cox debate border wall, immigration policy".
  52. ^ "5 of 6 candidates for California governor oppose death penalty". December 30, 2017.
  53. ^ "Fireworks Erupts Between California GOP Candidates For Governor". May 25, 2018.
  54. ^ Mehta, Seema (January 5, 2018). "Republican candidates for California governor spar over support for Trump in their first debate". LA Times. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  55. ^ "Rendon boosts Chiang – De Leon faces backlash over immigrant talk – COX plots run for governor". Politico.
  56. ^ Trump Likes Cox. In:, May 19, 2018.
  57. ^ Stewart, Joshua (May 27, 2018). "Sitting in second place, governor candidate John Cox gets a hand up from frontrunner, pulled down by straggler". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  58. ^ Morrongiello, Gabby (May 28, 2018). "'A rare opportunity': Trump urges Californians to back Republican John Cox". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  59. ^ Mehta, Steema (May 25, 2018). "Trump's daughter-in-law touts his endorsement of John Cox for California governor in new video". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  60. ^ Panzar, Javier (April 30, 2018). "John Cox begins California barnstorm with the delivery of gas tax repeal signatures". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  61. ^ McGreevy, Patrick (April 26, 2018). "Republicans hope to ride a gas-tax repeal to victory". Los Angeles Times.
  62. ^ Mehta, Seema. "GOP candidate for California governor John Cox once linked gay rights to polygamy, bestiality". Los Angeles Times.
  63. ^ Johnson, Jessica (September 27, 2018). "High-speed rail is 'biggest point of departure' between gubernatorial candidates, Cox says". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  64. ^ Stewart, Joshua. "California governor candidate says pot addicts should be hospitalized, not incarcerated". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  65. ^ Gargill, David (February 2008). "Not What It Takes". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  66. ^ "Ballots Cast". March 19, 2002. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  69. ^ "FINAL RESULTS SUMMARY REPORT COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS GENERAL ELECTION TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2004" (PDF). Cook County Clerk's Office. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  71. ^ "Statement of Vote" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  72. ^ "Complete Statement of Vote" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved December 14, 2018.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of California
Succeeded by