A brief direct message on Twitter gave me the grave news I feared the most: President Trump endorsed John Cox, a Chicago-born businessman who carpet-bagged to California five years ago, for Governor of California.
I am stunned, and it made me sick to my stomach. Full disclosure: I support Assemblyman Travis Allen for governor, the candidate who has been outspoken about his support for Trump and his agenda from the beginning.
But the bigger issue comes to the following questions:
- Why would Trump support Cox instead of Allen?
- Who is giving advice to the President? Did he make this decision himself?
- How does this affect California Politics? What about National politics?
The first question stems from a basic fact about John Cox: He didn’t vote for Trump in the 2016 primary nor the general election. Having voted for Ted Cruz and then Gary Johnson (who was as libertarian as Hillary Clinton is principled), Cox has struggled since then to engage with conservatives throughout the state. He has recently admitted regret for not voting for Trump, but that’s not enough for the base. Cox has a Big Money establishment veneer about him, too Romney-esque, and many conservative activists have confided to me that they don’t trust him. California doesn’t need another big money outsider who will get pushed around by Deep State Sacramento interests in the state capitol. Look at Illinois RINO Governor Bruce Rauner to confirm these suspicions.
Cox isn’t a shining conservative by any means, either. He opposes the death penalty. He has gone on record during debates that he supports Agenda 21 style constructions, including high density housing. Yes, the California housing crisis has reached unsustainable proportions, but the problem is government overregulation and corporate cronyism, not just a mere lack of housing.
Cox has received a few endorsements from pro-life groups, but then has falsely charged that his rival is pro-choice with a dismal record on defending life. After reviewing five years of Planned Murderhood records on this issue, anyone can see that Allen received a 0% rating from the baby-killing organization for three years, then received a failing grade and a 60% rating for two years because of legislation supported by PP, but which had nothing to do with abortion in the first place.
Cox has stood on different sides of the immigration issue, too. On Spanish-language media, he has dismissed the idea of a border wall, then he favored it as his conservative rival picked up steam in the primary. Recently, he shied away from emphasizing the wall in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. Cox is running to be competitive in the general election, in that he wants to find a comfortable spot for conservative voters to like him enough, and then he can appeal to independents and moderate Democrats in the general election.
In sharp, stark contrast, Assemblyman Travis Allen is charismatic, approachable, exciting. He lights up a room with stump speeches that stress every issue that Californians care about. He is strong, strong, strong on illegal immigration. He wants the wall, he wants illegal aliens deported, and he has not shied away from slamming Democratic rivals Gavin Newsom (former mayor of San Francisco) and Antonio Villaraigosa (former mayor of Los Angeles) for promoting sanctuary city policies and endangering American citizens. Allen stood his ground without hesitation or reservation on illegal immigration, socialized medicine, high taxes and fees in the midst of the extravagantly left-wing, biased Telemundo-sponsored town hall. Did I forget to mention that he is an outspoken Trump supporter keen on California’s maintaining a strong relationship with the White House?
So, why would Trump support Establishment-leaning John Cox? One clear reason is that Cox has more money, mostly his own. He has attracted heat from Democratic and independent PACs, which signals that a candidate is gaining in the polls. Former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich endorsed John Cox a few months earlier, too.
Trump’s decision is not helping, though, as far as one can tell, but no one should doubt President Trump’s motives. He cares about California and has praised the state’s conservative grassroots groups major successes to stop the Sanctuary State law. This past week, he sat down with elected officials—legislators, county sheriffs and mayors—to talk about the growing unrest and outrage against California’s unpopular, dangerous, and unconstitutional sanctuary policies.
Surely the President knows that California’s open primary system has endangered California Republicans, nearly 24,000 registered voters away from third party status behind Democrats and Decline to State voters. The Top Two means any top two, and that could be two Democrats, as happened with the US Senate race in 2016. Surely Trump knows that California has turned into a fundamental battleground for national Republicans in their efforts to hold onto the House of Representatives. No doubt Trump is thinking about Washington DC, and he wants to hold onto both chambers of Congress, filled with more MAGA candidates. There needs to be a Republican contender at the top of the ticket in California for the November election.
Yet I doubt the wisdom of this move. Cox will trumpet for the next two weeks that the President endorsed him instead of the candidate who has not stopped endorsing Trump and his agenda. This is the California version of Luther Strange, in which Trump goes with the Establishment candidate because of bad advice. Cox is not a strong draw for many Republican voters. He is not charismatic, and with all his money, he couldn’t purchase enough delegates at the CAGOP convention to win the state party endorsement! Hillary Clinton outspent Trump nearly two-to-one, yet we all know how the election ended.
Perhaps we grassroots conservatives need to reconcile the fact that once again Trumpism, conservative populism with an edge toward helping working Americans and stopping globalist, establishment policies, will Trump the Donald once again. Let’s hope that this national-statewide divide doesn’t hurt our state and our national chances going into November.