Updates from Team Kirk

“So in other words, should the GOP be looking to nominate somebody like, say, Kirk Cox?”

“…formidable, even prohibitive, favorite for the GOP nomination.”

“Cox has shown an ability to outperform other Republicans…”

“… gives the party its best chance of ending a losing streak in statewide elections…”

Since Kirk Cox launched his campaign on Tuesday, he’s garnered news coverage across the state and a slew of predictable attacks from Democrats who know the former House Speaker and retired school teacher is a general election threat. But Democrats aren’t the only ones who acknowledge Cox is capable of rallying the GOP and winning next November.

Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Schapiro writes this morning that Cox’s candidacy creates added value for the Republican nomination, calling Cox the ‘mature’ candidate who has ‘recruited winning candidates; and raised millions.’

Even at the bottom of the market — or maybe because of it — the Republican nomination for Virginia governor is worth something.

Its value is increasing now that former House Speaker Kirk Cox officially is a candidate, likely auguring others to declare.

Cox, trying to be conservative without being crude, is attempting to simultaneously assuage the Republicans who decide the nomination next spring and center-right independent voters who decide the governorship next fall. …

Cox was the mature politician at home with economic and social conservatives, who had more than three decades in the General Assembly; had recruited winning candidates; and had raised millions.

University of Mary Washington Professor and Political Analyst Stephen Farnsworth told the Chesterfield Observer

Many Republicans think Cox’s brand of pragmatic conservatism gives the party its best chance of ending a losing streak in statewide elections that now spans more than a decade….

“The former speaker would likely be a stronger candidate for Republicans,” Farnsworth says…

Those comments follow remarks from Farnsworth in August noting Cox’s ability to win a general election: 

To political analysts, Cox’s 11-point victory despite the political makeup of the district is one of the reasons that he might make a compelling gubernatorial candidate.

“Cox has shown an ability to outperform other Republicans, even in a significantly changed district,” says Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “The speaker managed to win over voters, win over a number of voters who were new additions to a district that became notably more liberal.”

Farnsworth says that Cox, a retired government teacher, just might be able to turn things around for Republicans seeking statewide office in Virginia.

“The Republican Party in recent years has suffered from a lack of a bench from which to pull candidates for statewide office,” he says. “Because Virginia Republicans have not succeeded in a statewide election since 2009, there aren’t all that many Republicans known statewide. Certainly, Del. Cox would be among the Republicans best known across the state who might run.”

Veteran political commentator Bob Holsworth also described Cox as a ‘conservative with a pragmatic bent’ who could succcesfully run a statewide campaign.

Describing Cox as “conservative with a pragmatic bent,” veteran political analyst Bob Holsworth says last fall’s race demonstrates that the former speaker knows how to campaign and fundraise.

“It showed that he’s a pretty good retail politician,” Holsworth says. “He knocked on a ton of doors, he put an extraordinary amount of effort into it. I think the effort and determination that he exhibited showed someone who’s capable of running a statewide campaign.”

Mark Rozell, the dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, notes that Cox brought a ‘palpable sign of relief’ to many Republicans and that could set up a Republican rebound in 2021. 

When former House of Delegates speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) lofted a trial balloon about a possible candidacy in August, it brought a palpable sigh of relief to many Republicans…

Washington Post opinion writer and long-time conservative blogger Norm Leahy posed the question simply as: “can Kirk Cox rescue the Virginia GOP?” 

Real change must come from a candidate. And on that score, Republicans just might have a real opportunity in 2021 in the guise of former House of Delegates speaker Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights)…

Unlike others rumored to be considering bids — Pete Snyder and former state senator Bill Carrico, for example — Cox is an incumbent lawmaker who did something they haven’t: win in a radically redrawn district that, on paper, should easily elect a Democrat.

That feat alone makes Cox a rarity in Virginia politics. He seems to be one of the very few officeholders who can thrive outside a gerrymandered cocoon. Does it make him a statewide force?

No. Much more is required, including a demonstrated ability to raise money. Cox checks that box easily, having raised more than $2 million for his 2019 race and more than $2.3 million for his leadership PAC… Still, it’s safe to assume Cox would be able to raise all the cash he would need for a statewide run… Unlike other Republican wannabes, Cox has a commanding grasp of state finances, a talent that’s been lacking in the Executive Mansion for a very long time.

All of these things should make him a formidable, even prohibitive, favorite for the GOP nomination.