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Ex-Speaker Kirk Cox Weighs Run for Governor

Kirk Cox stands hands clasped during pledge of allegiance behind speaker's dias
Former Speaker of the House Kirk Cox in 2019. (Roberto Roldan/VPM News)

Former Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said on Monday that he’s considering a run for governor.

The move marks a remarkable new chapter for Cox, who largely kept to the sidelines in this year’s legislative season after Democrats took control of his old chamber and the senate.

In a Facebook post , Cox said he never would have considered a run for governor eight months ago.

Democrats had just won control of the House and Senate, and Cox lost his post as one of the most powerful Republicans in the state. He also left his leadership role in the Republican caucus, returning to a position as delegate that he’s held since 1990.

The 62-year-old former civics teacher kept a low profile as Democrats passed items he’d once blocked on everything from gun control to the Equal Rights Amendment. Then came the pandemic.

“The easiest thing for me and Julie to do would be to spend the next 20 years going on walks at the park and visiting our boys at the beach, tweeting we told you so as Democrats drive up our taxes, chase investment and business out of our Commonwealth, adopt policies that lead to public employee strikes that hurt our kids, and reverse the policies that made Virginia one of the safest states in the nation,” Cox wrote in the post.

“But that’s just not who we are,” he said. “So, yes, I am seriously looking at a run for Governor.”

Cox said Gov. Northam’s leadership during the pandemic and recent protests -- or in his view, lack thereof -- have made him interested in higher office.

He specifically pointed to perceived failures in Northam’s COVID-19 testing and the governor’s “mismanagement of how to best send our kids back to school this fall.”

Cox says he’ll hold off on launching a campaign until after November’s elections.

Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian), a hard-right conservative, is so far the only Republican to formally announce a run.

Other Republicans who’ve expressed interest in the job include businessman  Pete Snyder, Sen.  Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), former Sen.  Bill Carrico (R-Grayson), and Rep.  Denver Riggleman, who floated the idea of running as an independent to Bloomberg News last week.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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