Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) announced his candidacy for Virginia governor on Tuesday. He has 30 years of experience as a Virginia delegate, including a stint as Speaker of the House. He thinks his brand of conservatism and results is what Virginia is looking for.
“I do think I have a record,” Cox said, “but I also feel like we need to bring back civility and respect.”
Cox said his plan to run was sparked “when the Democrats took over all of state government last January, watching how the state has been run, just a different world view, where they just really feel like the government needs to be in charge of every facet of your life, and it’s a totally wrong view.”
Cox said tax increases, anti-business environmental acts, and poor pandemic leadership characterize the current government of Virginia.
“Then we went into special session where we rarely debated key issues, we had a very anti-law enforcement agenda,” he said.
In the Republican primary, he will face Senator Amanda Chase, who has doubled down on Trump-style rhetoric and has a strong gun-rights-focused base. Chase has already attacked Cox for voting to expand Medicaid, according to Blue Virginia. However, Cox said voters should focus on his results.
Cox said he has shown consistent support for gun-rights and pro-life issues, especially as Speaker of the House. He said that the conservative Republican caucus electing him to be Speaker of the House demonstrates his conservative bona fides and leadership skills.
“So let’s talk about who’s really done things, not just sort of shout it from the top of a car about what you’re going to do,” Cox said. He suggested that Chase’s potential electorate has a ceiling at around 40 percent of the vote.
“People are looking for someone that will do what they say they’re going to do,” Cox said. “I’m a 30 year conservative who’s been very strong on issues that mean a lot to me like the Second Amendment and life, but, I’m also someone that has the bluest district in the state, who is able to work with a lot of different groups to get key legislation passed.”
Cox is a former high school teacher of U.S. and Virginia government. He’s married with four grown sons and is also a deacon at The Heights Baptist Church. Cox also coached basketball and baseball. “I’m obviously a big sports guy, being a coach, et cetera. I’ve coached probably everybody in the local area at some point in time. That’s where I spent a lot of my time.”
He added that the part-time schedule of the General Assembly allowed him to continue teaching for many years, allowing him to gain experience through close contact with his constituents instead of losing touch over 3o years.
Cox thinks he can win based on a likely backlash against Democratic control of the federal government and 2020 elections data showing strong Trump turnout. Cox noted that Trump’s inroads with minorities, along with the increasing elitism of the Democratic party, means that Virginia still has room for Republicans.
“I think you have to be careful when you look at elections. When President Obama won Virginia,” Cox said, “please remember that Governor McDonnell won decisively the next year and that Republicans picked up seats. Virginia tends to be a really power-cyclical state.”
“You see generally Democratic leadership, especially on the national level,” Cox said. “People see that. You generally see a turn back to Republicans. My guess will be you’ll see an election next year where Republicans will be very, very viable.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kirk Cox” by Kirk Cox. Background Photo “Virginia State Capitol” by Ron Cogswell. CC BY 2.0.