RICHMOND, Va. -- Former Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox officially announced his campaign for Governor of Virginia.
Cox announced Tuesday his run for governor in 2021, saying he had the right background and approach to win in a state where no Republican has won a statewide race in more than a decade.
"I am running for Governor because I cannot watch the Virginia we've built slip away," the Republican, who represents Colonial Heights and portions of Chesterfield in the Virginia General Assembly, wrote in his announcement. "The timeless principles upon which our representative democracy were built are under attack, unchecked one-party Democratic control in Richmond is tearing our state apart, and people feel like their leaders are not listening. We have to fight back against the cancel culture and the elitism, against misguided collectivist policies, and a worldview that puts the government in charge of every facet of our lives."
In an interview Monday morning, Cox added that he had the ability to listen to all sides.
"I've worked on so many issues over the years, like veterans -- I've actually probably had more veterans bills passed than any other delegate, and I've worked with both sides of the aisle on those," said Cox.
Cox, 63, is a retired high school teacher who's served in the House of Delegates since 1990.
He was elected as speaker in 2018, but he lost that role after Democrats won a majority in both the House and Senate last November. He announced in August that he was seriously considering a run for governor, citing what he called a “vacuum of leadership” created by Democrats.
In October, he filed a “statement of organization” to establish a campaign committee.
He said he plans to run as a conservative, particularly on social issues like guns and abortion, but also as someone who can work with Democrats on kitchen-table issues in a respectful way.
“I feel like that's a winning way to be,” Cox said.
Cox will have competition for the Republican nomination.
State Senator Amanda Chase (R - Chesterfield) announced her run for governor back in February.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam cannot seek a second consecutive term under the state's constitution.
CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth believed some of the biggest hot button topics and issues candidates would have to address as they ran for Governor was two-fold -- an assessment of how the Virginia government responded to the COVID crisis -- and moving forward, a focus on economic revitalization.
"What should the kind of post-COVID economy look like? How should we revitalize? What are the key things that need to be done here in Virginia to get the economy back on track," said Holsworth. "I think that’s very important."
Holsworth also believed there would be a focus on education as well given the impact the pandemic has had on students and their learning.
Cox has been highly critical of how Northam has handled the coronavirus, saying the governor has botched school reopenings. He's also blasted Democratic efforts at criminal justice and police reforms in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Cox has characterized some of the police reforms as “anti-law enforcement.”
Cox has strong pro-business and anti-abortion credentials, but he also helped push through Medicaid expansion, which many conservatives opposed.
Virginia will elect the next governor in November 2021.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.