John H. Cox
July 15, 1955
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (2000-present)|
|Democratic (before 2000)|
|Education||University of Illinois, Chicago|
Illinois Institute of Technology
Cox began his political career as a Democrat, as he ran to be a delegate to the 1976 National Convention. He later became a Republican perennial candidate 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. On November 6, 2018, he lost to Democrat Gavin Newsom in the state's biggest gubernatorial landslide since 1950. Cox is a candidate for the 2021 California gubernatorial recall election.
Born John Kaplan, Cox is the son of Priscilla (Pick) and Albert Kaplan. 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. 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. He and his first wife, Nancy, divorced. He married his second wife, Sarah. Cox was raised by a Jewish mother. He now practices Catholicism with his family.
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.
Cox hosted The Progressive Conservative, a twice-weekly bought-time radio talk show on low-wattage WJJG 1530 AM in Chicago. Featuring guests like Michael Moriarty, 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".
Originally a Democrat, Cox became a Republican later on, serving on Jack Kemp's steering committee in 1987. At the 2006 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Cox debated the issue of capital punishment as an opponent of the death penalty.
Cox ran for a position as a delegate to the 1976 Democratic National Convention. 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, despite spending half a million dollars on his campaign. In 2002, Cox ran for U.S. Senate in Illinois on a conservative platform, aligning himself with Reagan Republicans. 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. 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".
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
On March 7, 2017, Cox announced his candidacy for Governor of California in the 2018 election. 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. Cox obtained the endorsements of Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, though he tried to distance himself from the Trump endorsement. Cox also received endorsements from eight Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Jeff Denham, and Mimi Walters, as well as by the National Right to Life Committee.
Cox launched his campaign with the slogan "clean out the barn". 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.
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.
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".
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, Cox stated in 2006: "abortion is murder--plain and simple--and that should be regulated by state law."
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."
In January 2018, Cox stated he was opposed to the construction of a border wall. Rival GOP gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen has commented that Cox has "flip-flopped" on his position. Cox has since stated that he supports a southern border wall.[better source needed]
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. By January 2018, Cox characterized his vote for Johnson as "a mistake", but did not indicate who he would have voted for instead. Cox attempted to distance himself from Donald Trump during his gubernatorial campaign; when asked about Trump, he stated to Politico "...no comment. Was that fast enough for you?" 
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". Advertising from Gavin Newsom's campaign portrayed Cox as Trump's protégé. On May 28, 2018, Trump tweeted a further endorsement of Cox as "...a really good and highly competent man". The president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, endorsed Cox in the gubernatorial election as well.
In 2018, Cox submitted approximately 811,000 signatures in an effort to repeal the 2017 fuel tax increase.
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.
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."
During a campaign event in 2008, Cox proclaimed: "There is no separation of church and state in the Constitution."
|Republican||John H. Cox||187,706||22.74%|
|Republican||John H. Cox||117,731||100|
|Democratic||Eugene "Gene" Moore (incumbent)||1,283,762||70.74|
|Republican||John H. Cox||530,945||29.26|
|Republican||John H. Cox||1,766,488||25.4%|
|Republican||Robert C. Newman II||44,674||0.6%|
|Republican||Peter Y. Liu||27,336||0.4%|
|Peace and Freedom||Gloria La Riva||19,075||0.3%|
|Democratic||Albert Caesar Mezzetti||12,026||0.2%|
|Democratic||Robert Davidson Griffis||11,103||0.2%|
|Democratic||Thomas Jefferson Cares||8,937||0.1%|
|Green||Christopher N. Carlson||7,302||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%|
|Republican||John H. Cox||4,742,825||38.05%|
Primary election resultswas invoked but never defined (see the help page).