Editor’s note: Conservative Review does not endorse candidates. This article reflects the personal view of Steve Deace.
It was little more than a decade ago that I first got to know the GOP’s nominee for governor of California, John Cox. I was hosting the afternoon drive radio program on Iowa’s largest statewide media platform — legendary news radio 1040 WHO, where Ronald Reagan was the first sports director. Yes, that Reagan.
Cox was a successful businessman concerned about the future of the country, so in true entrepreneurial fashion, he threw his hat into the ring and tried running for president in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. Needless to say, I had something a candidate with low name ID desired: a prominent radio show that could introduce him to the state’s conservatives.
I was impressed with his aggressiveness in pursuing air time, so I let him come on frequently over the course of several months to reward his chutzpah, but also for another reason. He was good radio, since he was willing to discuss substantive ideas and policies outside the Overton window pre-approved by the GOP’s legions of insider consultants. Though his upstart presidential candidacy never caught on, I always wondered what happened to him.
Well, in typical John Cox fashion, it turns out he’s still up for taking on what many believe are lost causes. Now Cox has his sights fixed on fixing the source of much of America’s lurch towards Leningrad — the progressive faux utopia known as the People’s Republic of California.
Political oddsmakers don’t like Cox’s chances in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by four million registered voters (that’s more than the total population of my home state of Iowa) and only two Republicans have won any statewide office since 1998. But Cox is betting on the people’s certainty that Democrat rival Gavin Newsom will proudly pound the final nails into the coffin of the state’s future.
“In addition to having tremendous personal failings,” said Cox, who finished in the top two of California’s gubernatorial primary on June 5 along with Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco and current lieutenant governor, “Newsom is way far on the Left both culturally and fiscally. His main plank is single-payer health care. He’s a gift from God [to run against], really.”
Cox has been warning Americans about the designs of such socialists for a long time. Back when he ran for president, it was as a resident and businessman from the state of Illinois, a place that knows a thing or two about Democrats leading its people on a road to nowhere – or worse.
Family ultimately brought Cox and his career to California, but the new political boss was the same as the old political boss. “Unsustainable promises” were the currency of the land, but unlike at any other time in the recent past, Cox said the evidence is now clear that the trance of Democrat politicians and policies is losing its power to compel people to vote as they’ve always done.
Cox said recent polling shows that about half of all Californians are willing to move out of the state if things don’t get better soon.
“The Democrats have made this state so incredibly expensive and uncompetitive,” Cox said, referring to things like increasing the gas tax as well as layers upon layers of regulation concerning unions, the environment, litigation, and zoning that absolutely crush the ability of businesses to survive and thrive. “This state is flat on its back.”
Other sins Cox links to Newsom and the current governor of California, Jerry Brown, are getting rid of the state income tax deduction, which effectively doubled residents’ taxes in an already unaffordable state. And spending $78 billion on public education, only to be ranked in the bottom fifth of all states for academic performance.
The appetite for something better, says Cox, is clearly evident from how readily Californians petitioned to repeal the state’s gas tax increase this November. Not only did the measure get the 585,000 signatures required to become an official referendum, but it got 400,000 more signatures than required.
“The frog has reached the boiling point,” Cox said. “Californians’ savings are depleted. They can’t afford houses. They can only afford half a tank of gas. We’ve reached an inflection point, and people are being forced to make a decision. A Gov. Newsom will be worse than Jerry Brown. He will have no restraint whatsoever. I’ll make your life affordable again.”
Things are so bad that Cox expects Newsom to do little more during the next few months than try to hide from his record and run against President Trump. But once again, Cox is happy to remind voters that it is Newsom and the Democrats, not Trump, who have turned a once vibrant state — both economically and politically — into an American Venezuela.
“A DMV that takes three hours to get a driver’s license will be the model for health care that Newsom wants for you,” Cox said. “I’m talking about quality of life issues all the way down the line. Newsom is Jimmy Carter-esque scarcity. I’m Ronald Reagan abundance. And California is the tip of the spear for the entire country. I’m going to make this a national race about big government versus freedom and liberty.”
I have no idea if Cox has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning this November. But knowing Cox as I once did, I do know this: For the first time in a long time, the people of California might actually hear about freedom and liberty in a campaign again.