LEADER EXCLUSIVE: John Cox explains withdrawal, endorsement of Rauschenberger

Monday, October 13, 2003

Former candidate for U.S. Senate, John Cox
OPINION -- On October 9, John Cox surprised almost everyone, reportedly even some of his own staffers, by abruptly dropping from the U.S. Senate Republican primary race.

The other shoe Cox dropped was quickly endorsing State Senator Steve Rauschenberger for the coveted U.S. Senate seat. Cox is a social and fiscal conservative. Rauschenberger is seen in much the same light among many Republicans, however, some of Rauschenberger's votes have caused concern in conservative circles (e.g., voting for legislation to give in-state tuition status to illegal aliens, and for making hypodermic needles available without a prescription).

Due to what Cox states is incomplete or inaccurate portrayals of his rationale for both moves in the mainstream press, he has asked Illinois Leader to publish his explanation to conservatives, which follows....

Fellow citizens:

As you know, I have recently taken the action of withdrawing my candidacy for the U.S. Senate in order to join the campaign of State Senator Steven Rauschenberger for this same position.

While I believe most press reports tried to accurately portray my reasons, as usual, space limits and reporter discretion (bias?) limited what was written.

I fully intended to carry on my campaign to the end. I entered the race in July because there were only a couple of candidates at that point, and both had committed to supporting what I consider to be not only a major misdirection of taxpayer resources, but a symbol of corruption and cronyism, the expansion of O'Hare Airport.

While I believe that the airport should be modernized for the 21st Century, and western access is long overdue, the massive spending envisioned by [Chicago Mayor] Richard Daley (King Richard in my vernacular) is a testament to the corrupt political spoils system that our federal as well as state political leaders have all too often endorsed as a way to reward their cronies and make themselves look good to the local newspapers.

Recent indictments (the Duffs) and federal investigations (the last minute grant of $750k to two cronies connected to a certain corrupt former governor) only serve to reinforce this notion and make the public more cynical and disgusted.

Over the past few months, several other candidates have entered this race, and it has turned into a free for all. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it shows the depth of interest in politics in general and the Republican party specifically.

However, it became more and more difficult to compete for donors and volunteers, not to mention the attention of the public. This would certainly not have been impossible, and in fact, I was making great strides given the challenges.

Furthermore and probably most important, I became concerned that if these candidates all stayed in the race (and several of them are funded well), it could mean a split of votes such that a candidate would attain the nomination who I believe would not fare well in the general election (I was very disappointed in 2002) or would represent positions that I felt would be a step backward for the conservative movement and political leadership in general.

I have had these concerns for several weeks. I felt it would not be honest to continue to raise and spend the time and contributions of generous and well meaning donors if I were to ultimately get out of the race because of these concerns.

I was contacted by Charlie Stone of the Rauschenberger campaign; I sat down with Steve and went over issues for several hours.

While I had some concern about what has gone on in Springfield over the past ten years, with the large spending among other matters, I was satisfied after talking to Steve as well as other important conservative leaders for whom I have great respect, that Steve had fought the fight he could, but that other forces overtook his efforts to control the excesses.

Steve is the only elected official in this race - that is not the be and end all, but it does give him significant credibility and contacts around the state. I believe he will get most newspaper endorsements, and in a crowded field with a great deal of advertising and media, that could well be a great difference.

Steve has a cadre of state representatives and senators who are contributing their endorsements and organizations around the state, a great advantage that will cost the other candidates dearly to replicate.

Most of all, he is committed to conservative principles and ideals. His is not a perfect voting record, but with the large number of votes he has been forced to cast, it would be difficult indeed to satisfy everyone on every issue.

This is no political sellout or mea culpa, it is just a recognition that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. There is significant unfinished business in Washington, and we cannot lose this seat.

I am a fiscal conservative, plain and simple. (My staff and family say I am so tight I squeak.) It is not that I am not generous, I don't think, it is that with all that has to be done in this world, I feel that any waste or inefficiency is counterproductive and damaging to progress.

In this primary, we have a lot of good people, but we don't need two candidates who have very close to the same message. That is a waste of resources I cannot countenance.

Steve is committed to opposing waste, cronyism and corruption. Steve is committed to conservative principles and rebuilding the Republican party around those principles and ideals.

I am satisfied with his commitment to me and the people of this state about those principles. (Just as a guarantee, I told him that if he varied in any significant way, I would run full page ads in opposition - I am persuaded from talking to many others who know him that this will never be necessary!)

I am joining his campaign and urging all of you to do so as well. I will help him in campaigning, fundraising, media and message.

This is not endorse and walk away. That is not me. I do plan on being involved in the future of the Republican party because it is a bright future and it is important to be involved. We have much work to do but work well done and effective is enjoyable and satisfying.

I thank all who supported and assisted my campaign. There is not enough time in the day to do it individually, but I hope this message reaches all to whom I have not been able to contact directly.

Sincerely, John Cox

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