John Cox, Republican candidate for Governor of California

Republican Candidate For Governor Hopes Trump Surge Puts Him In Runoff

But Businessman John Cox Is In Tough Scrap For Second Spot

Doug Sovern
May 23, 2018 - 5:00 am

With the California primary campaign heading into the home stretch, the Republican Party's greatest hope in the race for governor appears to be a millionaire businessman who failed four times to win elective office running in Illinois and just moved to the Golden State seven years ago.

John Cox, 62, is an accountant and attorney who made his fortune in real estate management. Since moving to the San Diego area in 2011, he's led two unsuccessful statewide ballot campaigns - one to create a "Neighborhood Legislature" of  12,000 people and the other to slap NASCAR-style sponsors' badges on state lawmakers. Now he's running for governor, and unlike his past campaigns for Congress, U.S. Senate and Cook County Recorder in Illinois, and yes, briefly, President of the United States, he's actually gaining some traction.

That's because Cox can bankroll his own campaign, there's only one other viable Republican in the race, and he has the backing of a president for whom he didn't even vote.

President Trump endorsed Cox last week, giving the conservative Republican a boost over the even more conservative State Assemblyman Travis Allen, as the two fight for the lion's share of California's dwindling Republican electorate. Polls show Cox in a two-way battle with Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, for second place in the June 5 "top two" primary. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is widely expected to finish first and advance to November.

Cox tells KCBS Radio he doesn't disagree with a single thing Trump has done as president. "I look at his actions and I love most of what he's done," Cox says. "People can argue with his style but they can't argue with his success, and with the results." He says he'd like to emulate Trump as governor, calling for cuts in taxes and regulations. "We've got to streamline these environmental laws," says Cox, saying less red tape would stimulate housing development in California and end the affordability crisis. "This state is being horrendously mismanaged." Cox points to recent legislation mandating rooftop solar panels on all new single-family homes built after 2020. "It just keeps adding to the cost. You can't keep doing this to working people." He regrets voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2016, instead of for Trump. "I wasn't sure (Trump) was going to be a conservative."

Cox plans to air TV ads in the campaign's closing days, touting the Trump endorsement, hoping it will help Republican voters coalesce behind him. "As the president would say," says Cox, "it's h-u-u-u-ge."

You can listen to our entire interview with John Cox above, or hear the segment that's airing on the radio, below.