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  • Jacob Aere

Dark Horse Running

Businessman John Cox is determined to change the status quo of California politics

His story is one of trial and triumph — overcoming odds and defying expectations. Born and raised near Chicago’s South Side, Rancho Santa Fe resident John Cox was a firsthand witness to the corruption of the public school system in his hometown. The businessman and Republican candidate in California’s 2018 gubernatorial election grew up with a single mother who was a “domineering taskmaster,” educator, and advocate for change, says Cox. Her unwavering dedication helped to shape his attitude of hard work — teaching tennis to put himself through college, doubling as a daytime accountant and a nighttime law student, and eventually founding companies John H. Cox and Associates Ltd., Cox Financial Group Ltd., and Equity Property Management. A successful accountant, businessman, attorney, and even broadcaster, the four-time political race veteran finds himself once again as an underdog vying for office. Committed to following through on his resolution to “get rid of political corruption,” Cox maintains faith in his odds to become governor.

With or without confidence, aligning oneself as a member of the Grand Old Party does not make the course to governor in present-day California easy. Cox’s current Democratic rival and Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, is expected by many polls to deliver an overwhelming win on Election Day. Cox feels that the polling has a lot to do with name recognition and that his promise to bring accountability to a “terrifically mismanaged” California will propel him to victory. “I’m obviously pretty well-known to the Republicans,” says Cox. “Now I’m starting to talk to Democrats and independents about actually fixing these broken systems — our schools, our water, our roads, our business climate, and our housing prices. I think Democrats and independents are looking for changes in those areas.”

John Cox

The Cox campaign is also dealing with President Donald Trump’s Twitter endorsements of the Republican candidate. Trump tweeted during May 2018, supporting Cox as someone “who understands borders, crime, and lowering taxes… he’ll be the best governor you’ve ever had.” When Ranch & Coast asked about the effects of Trump’s endorsement on his political campaign, Cox responds, “I love the president for what he’s done. The judges, the tax cuts, the regulation cuts, standing up to Isis, North Korea, and Iran. My opponent is going to try to use the president’s idiosyncrasies against me and my answer is that Donald Trump didn’t create a housing crisis, Donald Trump didn’t pass a gas tax, Donald Trump didn’t choke off our water supply, and Donald Trump didn’t make our schools 47th in the nation.” He continues, “Donald Trump didn’t do any of that stuff, the politicians in Sacramento did, and I think the people of this state will be able to figure it out.”

With the gubernatorial race, the president’s endorsements, and all the media attention, it could be easy to believe that Cox and his family uprooted from Illinois for a campaign angle, but that would be incorrect. “Rancho Santa Fe — it’s the weather,” Cox says. “It’s gorgeous. I get up every day and kiss the ground. I mean I literally do that because I just think this is paradise.” Cox, his wife, and their four children became full-time residents of Rancho Santa Fe in 2011, and for Cox, there was another big selling point: golf. “I came out here to play golf, I didn’t come out here to practice politics,” he says. At a self-proclaimed handicap of nine, Cox is a better-than-average golfer who “never” takes a cart — a fitting metaphor for a man who reads seven newspapers a day and has beaten the odds to ascend into business and politics.

The upcoming months will be filled with media campaigns and public appearances for Cox, who says that California is at a political crossroads. “People have to decide: are we going to stick with the status quo of Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom or are we going to vote for change?” says Cox, a 40-year business expert whose mission is to “change the equation in Sacramento so that we take those narrow interests out of power and bring it back to the people.” A workhorse, a dark horse, and a businessman, Cox’s campaign slogan promises Californians that “Help Is On The Way” to eliminate decisions influenced by pressure groups and once again make life affordable in the Golden State.   Jacob Aere

Photos by Vincent Knakal

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