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San Diego Republican John Cox On Why He Should Be California's Next Governor

California Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox, right, speaks in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
Associated Press
California Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox, right, speaks in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
San Diego Republican John Cox On Why He Should Be California's Next Governor
San Diego Republican John Cox On Why He Should Be California's Next Governor GUEST: John Cox, San Diego businessman

>> This is KPBS Midday Edition. >> A Republican has not won in a statewide competition in more than 10 years. There is an effort to change that. Coxes second or third in most polls. If those numbers continue, he has a good chance of making it to the general election. Earlier today I spoke with him. He was in advance of the convention taking place in San Diego. >> You were caught a retro Republican. Is that a fair characterization? >> I believe an opportunity. I believe in growth. I believe in government but I believe in small, efficient, not wasteful government. I believe in immigration, legal immigration. I celebrate the fact that America is a magnet for people, talented people from all over the world who want to come here. I was on Jack Kamps steering committee in 1987. I was one of the first members of the club for growth. That is where Kudlow comes from. He is now president Trump's economic advisor. So, to the extent that that is a connection, I am a Trump Republican and a Reagan Republican and a camp Republican. I actually think those are compatible. >> You did not vote for President Trump in the election. >> You have said that you don't like the harsh language he uses on Twitter sometimes. What would you say to the many Republicans in California who did vote for him and like the way he attacks opponents? >> The issue is that, if you don't like someone's personality or it is not your personality, it is different, certainly his personal life is not mine. We elected a president to sign legislation. They will argue for legislation. To the extent that I love the president in terms of his tax cut, I think that was needed to make corporations here competitive with the rest of the world, our tax rates were much higher than the rest of the world and we were losing business. To the extent that he has cut regulations for small businesses. Small businesses are choked underregulation. There is continuing efforts for that in California. There is a border that is letting drugs and guns and gangs into America. That should not happen. We don't want to live next to him as 13. Those are things that I absolutely agree with. I think most Republicans and most Democrats agree with the fact that we have too much tax and too much regulation and to force of a border. >> >> You want to cut taxes and cut regulations. You don't support the sanctuary state law. Those are things that your Republican opponent believes. Where you see the difference between you and Alan? >> There may not be a huge difference ideologically. He is an assembly man. He was a stockbroker. I actually built a business, I started with nothing. My mother with this -- was a single mother on the south side of Chicago. I built this to be a $200 million enterprise with 100 employees. I have managed employees for 35 years. I have managed budgets and managed goals and met goals and forged solutions in the private sector. Might young opponent is not experienced in business. He is a stockbroker. That is a salesman. He is a good speaker. He is a salesman. I think this job requires somebody who has had the maturity and experience of running a large organization, which I have. I am not the only businessman that can do it. I am running right now. I think the people of the state want better management. They want affixed to the problems that we have here. We have a whole lot of them that can be fixed. >> One thing you're trying to change as the gas tax. Leaders of the repeal effort, how would you pay for infrastructure improvements to the roads without that tax revenue? >> Using the money efficiently. California is a waste machine. We spend four dollars for every dollar Texas spends on a mile of road. Think about that. Four times what another state is spending. If you have ever been to Texas, those roads are great. Hours are full of potholes. We are spending multiples of what Texas is spending in the roads are lousy. That is mismanagement. Let me tell you, there are businesses that are mismanagement -- mismanaged. Those people usually get replaced. >> They are mismanaging roads and schools and water and the forest. You almost can't name a aspect of life in California that is being managed properly. The housing situation is a crisis that is being mismanaged. I think people of the state love living here. They just can't stand the management. We need to change it. >> I want to move away from fiscal issues and talk about marijuana. >> You are interviewed and you said that marijuana users should be put in treatment facilities. >> That is not true. >> I have it on tape. I did not say that. >> We played the tape for the Union Tribune. They still held to their position. I clearly did not say that recreational pot users should go to hospitals. >> I talked about abuse of drugs that are addicting like heroin. We should do a Portugal does. Don't put those people in jail, put them in the hospital and get them well. That is the right solution. Marijuana condo. >> You said nothing about putting them in hospitals? >> Absolutely not. I will play the tape for you. This is an issue with the media. We purposely take that and played it. It has a lot of courage. They played the tape. It was on the radio. It clearly said I was talking about heroin and opioids and addictive drugs. Marijuana to my knowledge is not necessarily addictive. >> What about John Cox >> We listened to that Union Tribune interview. Here is what he said about marijuana users in a debate. >> I would like to go to the Portugal system where they actually put people who use marijuana and cure them with substance abuse. I am certainly for medical marijuana. it cost a lot to live in California. That is not news. What is driving those cost? It can be more complicated than you think. Matt Leven is the data reporter for the California dream project. He is boiled it down in his latest piece, five reasons costs are so high. Welcome. >> Thank you for having me.

A Republican has not won statewide office in California in more than 10 years. Gubernatorial candidate John Cox of Rancho Santa Fe wants to change that.

Democrat Gavin Newsom is the front-runner by a wide margin in the race to succeed Governor Jerry Brown. But Republican Cox is now running second or third in most polls, outpacing Democrats Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang.

RELATED: Gavin Newsom Says No Way He’s Running For President

If those numbers continue, John Cox has a good chance of making it past the June primary and on to the general election in November.

Cox has described himself as a "Jack Kemp-Republican" and said he did not vote for Donald Trump for President. But now he supports many of the President's policies, including Trump's attacks on California for declaring itself a sanctuary state.

RELATED: State Treasurer John Chiang Discusses His Run For California Governor

Cox's views on marijuana use have gained notice. In an interview with editors and reporters at The San Diego Union-Tribune, he said marijuana users should be put into treatment facilities because they are at risk of moving on to harder drugs. But he declared his support for legalized medical marijuana.

John Cox is also actively involved in the campaign to repeal the gas tax increase that went into effect in California last year.

RELATED: Gubernatorial Debate Takes Center Stage In San Diego

The California Republican Convention takes place in San Diego May 4 - 6.

Cox joins Midday Edition on Thursday to talk about the California governor's race.