Chapter Five: The Cast of Characters Continues

Now let’s move forward to an electable candidate for Virginia Governor who actually has experience in government, Delegate Kirk Cox. The word experience is used so often we are for the most part immune to the significance, but it’s time to take a real intrinsic look at what that actually means.

One had only to watch any of the recent gubernatorial candidate forums to know that good ideas abound on how to improve the lives of Virginians. Few of the reforms put forward, however, by these well-intentioned folks who want you to know they are not politicians can be accomplished with the stroke of the Governor’s pen, although they would have you believe it’s that simple.

Whether they don’t know how Virginia government works, or they chose to ignore it for the sake of sounding impressive, is immaterial because both are equally disturbing.

While the negative reference to politicians sounds catchy, the fact is that they are campaigning hard to become just what they claim is bad. The desire to become a politician is exactly the goal so this tactic is at the very least disingenuous. Does all this doublespeak sound like a “politician” to you? If so, you know the old saying –  if it quacks like a duck….

To really explore the word experience, we must look at 2021 as the year of consummate open season ugliness on candidates with credentials. Painfully obvious is the attempt to detract attention from so many others who have zero in the way of qualifications.

This year the hateful campaigning against Republicans by Republicans has probably reached an all-time low. No, really; it has. The stack of campaign mailers on my desk is now 10 inches thick and still growing. While it is certainly not limited to elected officials, I might remind those sending out this crap that many voters have a relationship with the very electeds you are trashing. Not good form at all, people, and in the end a net gain for your target.

The complete irony is that far and wide it seems to have had the opposite effect for many of what was intended. One of the first in early March actually sent by a candidate and not a shadowy surrogate called for the wholesale replacement of our failed Richmond leadership. I almost trashed that one but started a file to remember the candidate who sent the thing.

On that same day, I looked at the faces of our hard-working Republican Senate warriors at the end of this 2021 session faithfully gathered together for their traditional picture. There, this year, they were still smiling in spite of all they had been through to try and hold the line.

When I looked at the likes of Senator Emmett Hanger, Ryan McDougle, Bill Stanley, Bruce Reeves, Jill Vogel, and all the others in that photo, I thought about how much they did not deserve the mailer I held in my hand.

These folks, just like Kirk Cox in the Virginia House of Delegates, stood up for principles like free speech, the freedom to worship, the integrity of our election system, and the right to life. Delegate Cox is the man whose impassioned speech led to the defeat of Kathy Tran’s bill which allowed abortion all the way up to the minute of birth.

Members of both houses have done their best under very trying circumstances and don’t deserve to be cannon fodder by those who have never served in government. What kind of consensus will they build as Governor?

Real policy requires experience and is accomplished with well-crafted legislation and the understanding of how these are moved through the General Assembly. It also requires understanding of local government as well. Over the years relationships develop between those members of our General Assembly that help to build consensus on both sides of the aisle, and a corporate memory established of what works and what doesn’t. This is all part of experience.

Delegates come to know what is important in other localities as well and this helps build more consensus which is beneficial to the state as a whole.  For instance, Delegate Cox would know that while it sounds great to abolish Business Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) or even the Virginia income tax, you cannot eliminate a revenue stream without replacing it with another.

The General Assembly (GA) has been grappling with these issues for years. It doesn’t mean they are insurmountable, but it also doesn’t mean the Governor snaps his fingers and they disappear. Not one candidate proposing these things has explained how they will replace the revenue. It’s rhetoric … period.

I’ll have to give it to Delegate Cox on these forums when these things are mentioned. He is the soul of patience, not batting an eye even though it’s clear he could make his fellow candidates look foolish if he so chose. That is simply not his style, and he instead articulates what he plans to do for us as Governor of Virginia, refusing to take part in any negative narrative online. He also refused to take part in the appalling mailers from these mythical and newly formed political action committees (PACs).

Kirk is a smart man who understands policy and knows how to push it forward. Just one of his ongoing signature accomplishments is the tuition freeze which benefits so many Virginians. In 2019 the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote:

Speaker of the House Kirk Cox announced Thursday that keeping college tuition flat again next year will be among his top priorities in the state budget. The plan would freeze tuition in consecutive years for the first time in nearly two decades. Cox also said he wants to increase teacher pay in the state.

“It’s got to be more than just one year,” said Cox, R-Colonial Heights, who must first win his seat this November in a newly drawn district that appears less favorable for a Republican.”

Proving his electability, although many predicted a loss, Kirk won his reelection.  In 2019, federal judges redrew his district in an attempt to turn it blue. Influential Democratic groups run by Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and Planned Parenthood spent $1.5 million dollars on his opponent. Cox won in spite of this, taking his case to the voters by knocking on over 8,000 doors. Without compromising his values, this convention season Cox has been able to make a case both to delegates and to those with an eye on November that he is electable.

One of the hot button issues this year, of course, was reopening Virginia schools. Not surprisingly, Cox called on his background in the classroom, and devised a practical 10-part plan (found here) to support a reopening of schools which also included putting forward a comprehensive blueprint to help students who had not fared well during the pandemic to catch up and complete lost work.

While his competitors talked a good game, none of them explained how they would do this reopening especially with the autonomous power of local school boards. Cox’s plan was and is positive in nature and one that reasonable people, including local school boards, would be hard pressed to ignore. It offered incentives which benefited localities, students and teachers, and opened the door for discussion. This is the way experienced consensus builders do business.

Delegate Cox is a good legislator who has also held the line for conservatives for three decades.

Delegate Cox is a citizen legislator and a former high school teacher who taught government and representative democracy as a career. Along the way he coached basketball and baseball. In a crowd it would be hard to pick him out as a 32-year member of the GA. Delegate Cox isn’t fabulously wealthy and while he’s very professional, he’s does not act like a VIP and is comfortable in all settings. Cox is a real-life Virginian.

Finally let’s explore some information for you delegates and people all over Virginia who, sadly, are receiving these nefarious, shady-looking mailers bent on destroying other Republicans. Not a single bullet point has actually mentioned any real issues Cox might be taken to task for, and they are, for the most part, not even gray areas in truth but, instead, lies which should insult anyone’s intelligence. They can be debunked by a simple search.

The last mail piece is particularly egregious, blaming Cox for presiding over the House when certain bills were brought forward by the Democrats. News flash, Club for Growth and Action: the Speaker does not abdicate on days when certain bills come forward in the house. He runs the House regardless of whether he agrees with a bill or not. Whoever writes these mail pieces needs a high school government class.

Addressing another patently false claim regarding a bill in 2009, the mailer claims that Cox loosened voting ID requirements in general and this too is incorrect.

I am sure there are more mailers to come on his vote on Medicaid expansion, the big boogey man of 2018. I’ll be the first to admit I drank the Kool-Aid, too. Medicaid expansion was going to kill us, and worse of all, gut the education budget. We were told as one of the only lines of discretionary spending that funding would be pulled from local schools and the sky would fall. None of that ever happened. I repeat: none of that ever happened.

Delegate Cox is an able legislator who has also held the line for conservatives for three decades. If you can catch one of the forums for the candidates, you will see that Cox is head and shoulders above the rest in debate with a huge inventory of corporate knowledge and practical answers on how to address issues. In debate he is the consummate gentleman, not a bad thing at all in a Virginia Governor.

In addition, he is the only front runner not participating in mudslinging and, folks, that’s important as well.

For those who think we don’t need a career politician … think again, because a decent one with integrity can come in handy. I’m telling you flat out a 32-year veteran of the General Assembly can hit the ground running as Virginia’s Governor.

There is nothing wrong with experienced candidates as long as they can demonstrate they have sincerely worked to make good policy, and that’s exactly what Delegate Cox has done during his tenure. While I don’t agree with him on all of his legislation, as mentioned in the last chapter, I can agree with him about 75 percent of the time.

The idea that a candidate must be perfect is killing the Virginia GOP. There are no perfect candidate, folks, and I urge you to find one who most closely mirrors your values.

For those whose cup of tea is not a candidate who woke up one day and thought they should be governor, Kirk is a good choice.

Previously in this series:

Chapter One: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction – Convention Season 101
Chapter Two: Strange Bedfellows
Chapter Three: The Cast of Characters – Four Frontrunners
Chapter Four: The Cast of Characters, Continued

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