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TJ Cox

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TJ Cox
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 21st district
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byDavid Valadao
Succeeded byDavid Valadao
Personal details
Terrance John Cox

(1963-07-18) July 18, 1963 (age 60)
Walnut Creek, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseKathleen Murphy
EducationUniversity of Nevada, Reno (BS)
Southern Methodist University (MBA)

Terrance John Cox[1] (born July 18, 1963) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for California's 21st congressional district from 2019 to 2021. The son of Chinese American and Filipino American parents, Cox was elected to the House of Representatives in 2018. A member of the Democratic Party, he was defeated in his 2020 rematch with Republican David Valadao.

In August 2022, Cox was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Cox was born in Walnut Creek, California to Kenneth Edward Cox and Perla DeCastro (now Davis).[3] His father is half Chinese, who immigrated from China to California before becoming a chemical engineering professor at the University of New Mexico.[4][5][6] His mother was born in Manila, Philippines and attended the University of Santo Tomas before immigrating to the U.S.[7] He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1986[8] and a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.[9] He started two businesses that process nuts[10] and also managed a community development enterprise.[11]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Cox previously ran for the United States House of Representatives in California's 19th congressional district in the 2006 election, losing to incumbent George Radanovich.[12] In the 2018 elections, Cox again ran for the United States House of Representatives, this time in California's 21st congressional district.[13] Cox began this congressional bid in 2017, competing in California's 10th district primary race against several other Democratic candidates.

However, Emilio Huerta, the only Democratic challenger in the 21st district, withdrew from the race prior to the filing deadline to appear on the primary election ballot.[14][15] Cox withdrew from the 10th district race to instead run in the 21st district against incumbent Representative David Valadao.[15] He and Valadao advanced from the June 5 top-two primary election to the November 6 general election.[16]

On election night, and for several days after the election, Valadao had more votes, but Cox's vote count pulled into the lead on November 26.[17] By November 28, major news sources called the race for Cox, with Valadao conceding the race the following week. Cox's victory was considered an upset, as most election forecasters rated Valadao as the favorite.[18][19][20][21] Cox won by a narrow 862 vote margin.[22][23]


Cox ran for reelection in 2020 against Valadao, whom he had beaten in 2018.[24]

Cox was criticized for pushing to gain preferential access into Yosemite National Park over the July 4 weekend.[25][26][27][28][29] In October 2020, Cox's campaign acknowledged fabricating a tweet to make it appear as if Valadao had retweeted a message from President Trump saying "California is going to hell. Vote Trump!"[30][31][32]

Valadao defeated Cox in the election. The Associated Press called the election for Valadao on November 27, 2020, more than three weeks after the election,[33] and Cox conceded defeat on December 4, 2020.[34] Cox underperformed Biden's near 11 point win margin by about 5 points, leaving Valadao with the most Democratic district of any congressional Republican according to Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index.[35]


Shortly after his loss in the 2020 election, Cox announced his intention to run for the seat again in 2022. However, on November 17, 2021, Cox endorsed Rudy Salas removing himself from the contest.[36]

Committee assignments[edit]

Legal troubles[edit]

When Cox made an updated financial disclosure in 2019, it was discovered that he had failed to disclose business interests as a candidate in 2018.[38][39] It was also discovered that Cox failed to timely pay wages owed to three employees of Constellation Mines, a company where Cox was a director until early 2019.[40]

In January 2020, the IRS placed a tax lien on Cox for approximately $87,000 in unpaid income tax for 2016 and approximately $57,000 in unpaid income tax for 2017.[41][42] Cox was also subject to a $50,000 IRS tax lien in 2017.[43] In March 2020, Cox voted against a bill that would require members of Congress to disclose tax liens.[44]

In August 2021, state filings revealed that 35% of the spending from Cox's "VoterPAC", created with funds remaining from his campaign, went to MJTJ, LLC, an organization wholly-owned by Cox that was originally created for real estate investments.[45] VoterPAC was created to engage in voter registration. MJTJ, LLC, was reportedly illegally created for fundraising purposes.[45]

In August 2022, Cox was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud. If convicted, Cox faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.[2] In May 2024 it was announced that Cox will take a plea agreement which will be filed with the U.S. District Court on July 29.[46]

Electoral history[edit]

California's 21st congressional district election, 2018[47]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican David Valadao (incumbent) 34,290 62.8
Democratic TJ Cox 20,293 37.2
Total votes 54,583 100.0
General election
Democratic TJ Cox 57,239 50.4
Republican David Valadao (incumbent) 56,377 49.6
Total votes 113,616 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican
California's 21st congressional district election, 2020[48][49]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican David Valadao 39,488 49.7
Democratic TJ Cox (incumbent) 30,697 38.7
Democratic Ricardo De La Fuente 7,309 9.2
Republican Rocky De La Fuente 1,912 2.4
Total votes 79,406 100.0
General election
Republican David Valadao 85,928 50.5
Democratic TJ Cox (incumbent) 84,406 49.5
Total votes 170,334 100.0
Republican gain from Democratic

Personal life[edit]

Cox has four children with his wife, pediatrician Kathleen Murphy.[50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taub, David (May 30, 2018). "Issues Matter, Not Pelosi, as TJ Cox Talks Congressional Run". Fresno, California: GV Wire.
  2. ^ a b Adragna, Anthony (August 16, 2022). "Former Rep. T.J. Cox arrested by FBI in California". POLITICO. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  3. ^ https://usa.inquirer.net/59090/two-fil-am-incumbents-and-one-18-near-winner-bid-for-us-house-seats
  4. ^ "Filipino American Candidates Make Runoffs in Legislative Races". Los Angeles: Rafu Shimpo. June 16, 2018.
  5. ^ https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/151592378.pdf
  6. ^ https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ne_etds/123/
  7. ^ Varona, Rae Ann (August 5, 2018). "Obama endorses Fil-Am TJ Cox for Congress". Asian Journal. Born in Walnut Creek, California to immigrant parents — his mother Perla De Castro from the Philippines, and half-Chinese father from China — Cox is among several congressional Filipino candidates who advanced to California's general elections.
  8. ^ "Candidate Conversation - TJ Cox (D)". Inside Elections. August 31, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  9. ^ Martin, Ed (October 3, 2018). "Political profile: Democratic candidate TJ Cox has an uphill climb against Rep. Valadao in 21st District". The Leader. Lemoore, California.
  10. ^ Barabak, Mark Z.; Sweedler, Maya (November 26, 2018). "Democrat TJ Cox grabs lead over Republican David Valadao in nation's last undecided House race". Los Angeles Times. Cox, 55, is an engineer by training and local business owner who founded two nut-processing companies.
  11. ^ Burger, James (March 6, 2018). "Fresno community development leader TJ Cox to take on Rep. David Valadao". The Bakersfield Californian.
  12. ^ "TJ Cox to run against David Valadao for Congress". The Fresno Bee. March 6, 2018. Retrieved February 17, 2023.
  13. ^ Appleton, Rory (March 6, 2018). "TJ Cox to run against David Valadao for Congress". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  14. ^ Appleton, Rory (March 2, 2018). "Emilio Huerta drops out of congressional race against David Valadao". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Tolan, Casey (March 8, 2018). "Candidates wanted: Can Dems conquer Central Valley congressional seat?". The Mercury News. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  16. ^ Ulloa, Jazmine (June 5, 2018). "GOP Rep. David Valadao, Democrat TJ Cox advance in bid for Central Valley's 21st District". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  17. ^ Appleton, Rory (November 26, 2018). "Cox now leading Valadao after Kern County update". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  18. ^ Mark Z. Barabak (November 28, 2018). "TJ Cox beats Republican Rep. David Valadao to give Democrats gain of 40 House seats, seven in California". Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ Rakich, Nathaniel (November 27, 2018). "The Last Unresolved House Race Of 2018". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 29, 2018. (Note: Despite the title of this article, North Carolina's 9th congressional district remained unresolved after California's 21st congressional district was resolved.){{cite news}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  20. ^ Grace Segers (December 6, 2018). "Republican David Valadao concedes in contested California House race". CBS news. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  21. ^ Schneider, Elena (December 1, 2018). "Inside the GOP's California nightmare". Politico. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  22. ^ Christopher, Ben (January 16, 2020). "The races to watch: California Congressional primary". CalMatters. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  23. ^ Appleton, Rory (December 12, 2018). "How did TJ Cox erase a 25-point primary loss to become the Valley's next congressman?". Fresno Bee.
  24. ^ "California's 21st Congressional District". Ballotpedia. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  25. ^ Tavlian, Alex (August 3, 2020). "Cox under fire for pushing for special access to Yosemite on July 4". The San Joaquin Valley Sun. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  26. ^ Tavlian, Alex (August 26, 2020). "Washington watchdog hits Cox with complaint over Yosemite trip". The San Joaquin Valley Sun. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  27. ^ "California congressman pulled rank to get Yosemite tickets, emails indicate". The Mercury News. August 6, 2020. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  28. ^ Irby, Kate (August 4, 2020). "Fresno Congressman TJ Cox used his office to skirt Yosemite's lottery for car passes, emails show". Fresno Bee. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  29. ^ Moffitt, Mike (August 6, 2020). "Fresno congressman bypassed lottery to get July 4 Yosemite passes, emails show". SFGate. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  30. ^ Tavlian, Alex (October 13, 2020). "Cox campaign's fabricated Valadao tweet a new front in Twitter's misinformation battles". The San Joaquin Valley Sun. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  31. ^ "T.J. Cox campaign acknowledges using Photoshop to fabricate tweet by opponent David Valadao". KGET 17. October 13, 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  32. ^ Gonzalez, Liz (October 14, 2020). ""Photoshopped" tweet latest controversy in 21st Congressional District race". KMPH. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  33. ^ "Former House Republican flips central California seat". AP NEWS. November 27, 2020. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  34. ^ KFSN (November 26, 2020). "Democrat TJ Cox officially concedes to Republican David Valadao in District 21 race". ABC30 Fresno. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  35. ^ Cillizza, Chris (April 19, 2021). "16 congressional unicorns, revealed". CNN. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  36. ^ Californian, The Bakersfield (November 17, 2021). "Former congressman TJ Cox endorses Salas in race against Rep. David Valadao". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  37. ^ "Rep. TJ Cox". GovTrack. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  38. ^ Irby, Kate; Calix, Brianna (November 21, 2019). "Bankruptcy and conflict: One of California's tightest races is packed with financial baggage". Fresno Bee.
  39. ^ Tavlian, Alex (May 12, 2019). "Ethics complaint filed against Cox citing failed reporting of business ties". The San Joaquin Valley Sun. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  40. ^ Irby, Kate (August 21, 2019). "California congressman took 2 years to pay wages he owed to Canadian workers". Fresno Bee.
  41. ^ Gligich, Daniel (February 17, 2020). "IRS hits Cox with lien over $145k in unpaid income taxes". The San Joaquin Valley Sun. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  42. ^ Yeager, Joshua. "Cox, Valadao face questions in business dealings as race for 21st district heats up". Visalia Times-Delta. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  43. ^ Irby, Kate (April 16, 2019). "California's most vulnerable Democrat is still untangling his tax liens heading into 2020". Sacramento Bee.
  44. ^ Gligich, Daniel (March 12, 2020). "With $145k in unpaid taxes, Cox votes against bill to disclose liens, garnish wages". The San Joaquin Valley Sun. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  45. ^ a b Stone, Reid (August 1, 2021). "Report: TJ Cox pocketed 35% of funds spent by PAC hoping to gin up Valley voter enthusiasm". The San Joaquin Valley Sun. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  46. ^ Brassil, Gillian (May 17, 2024). "Fresno ex-Congressman TJ Cox taking plea deal in federal fraud, money laundering case". The Fresno Bee.
  47. ^ "2018 California primary election results" (PDF). Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  48. ^ "Statement of Vote Presidential Primary Election March 3, 2020" (PDF). California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  49. ^ "November 3, 2020, General Election - United States Representative" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  50. ^ Martin, Ed (April 24, 2018). "Local seniors gather for "Bowzer" and to question congressional candidates". The Leader. Lemoore, California.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 21st congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative