Dan Cox has eight reasons he’s running for Congress: his eight children.
He wants to leave a better future for them, said Cox, a first-time congressional candidate. He is seeking to represent Maryland’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cox, 42, has lived in each of the three counties that are partially in the district: Frederick, Montgomery and Carroll.
He started out in Takoma Park, near the D.C. border. His family moved north to Frederick County after his father, a minister, took a job here.
He grew up on a farm near Taneytown and worked his way through college as a lifeguard and a restaurant server.
Now, he lives outside Emmitsburg and works as a sole practitioner of a Emmitsburg law firm, Cox Law Center.
He and his wife have been married for 20 years. Their children — four boys and four girls — range from 7 months to 19 years old.
Cox studied political science at Mount St. Mary’s University and University of Maryland University College. He received his law degree from Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach.
If elected, Cox has pledged to restore conservative American principles embodied by the Ronald Reagan administration.
Cox’s policy ideas include imposing a flat tax, in which all individuals pay the same rate regardless of income; strengthening gun ownership rights; and reducing funding and programs for five federal agencies he considers bloated — the Internal Revenue Service and the departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.
He has joined a call for a new Grace Commission, similar to the one Reagan established, to identify waste, fraud and savings in the national budget and to conduct a top-to-bottom review of regulations and the agencies that create them.
Money cut from bloated government agencies could be redirected to increased military and defense programs and infrastructure projects, Cox said.
At the forefront of his campaign locally is a call to widen Interstate 270, though he doesn’t support toll lanes to make that happen. Cox advocates for widening I-270, even though Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has said such a project is currently too expensive.
Unlike his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Jamie Raskin, Cox does not support an increase in the national minimum wage.
Cox said an increase would reduce jobs and harm working families with entry-level jobs.
He would also eliminate the corporate income tax, which he said drives business out of the state and country.
Raskin has said a clear dividing line between the candidates is their position on gun control.
Raskin supported congressional calls this year to expand background checks to all commercial gun sales and to prohibit gun sales to people on FBI terror watch lists. Cox said he disagreed with any system that would cause potential gun buyers to be denied their Second Amendment rights without due process.
In Congress, Cox said, he would push lawmakers to rescind every presidential action and every judicial action that improperly burdens citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
“The only way to stop a criminal with a gun is a good person with a gun,” he said this campaign season.
Cox is prolific on Twitter and Facebook, regularly posting updates to his supporters.
In a recent post about immigration, Cox said he would “vote to deny any Shariah adherents from entering or staying in this country under US immigration law because Shariah is both anti-women and anti-American. It requires total domination of Islamic law over women and US law and our civil rights.”
If elected, Cox plans to draft a National Home and Community Defense Act, which would “provide basic training for home and community defense against the threats of terrorism and home invasion.” The training could be coordinated by local fire and police departments and provide possible tax credits to those who enter training.
The bill would also extend interstate reciprocity for gun owners with concealed-carry permits.
Cox supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, though he thinks “some of the vernacular on both sides of the aisle could be better.”
“But I tell you what: When you look at the issues that Trump and [vice presidential candidate Mike] Pence are speaking about ... you know, they’re filling rallies of tens of thousands of people in the stadiums and it’s resonating,” he said.
This week, Cox attended a rally with Pence in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Afterward, Cox posted a photo on Twitter, saying he was thrilled to have just shaken the hand of “the next vice president of the US.”
Earlier this campaign season, Cox attracted criticism when he said Raskin had been endorsed by Communist Party USA.
Raskin’s name was mentioned in a write-up of the Democratic National Convention by the party, but it was not an endorsement. Raskin would have disavowed an endorsement if one had been extended, he told The Washington Post.
While Cox has raised a fraction of the donations Raskin has taken in this election, much of his financing has come from Frederick County.
In the most recent campaign finance reports, which disclosed donations from April 7 to June 30, Raskin raised $301,604, while Cox took in $22,262.
Raskin attracted 605 donors, including just a handful from Frederick County. Cox’s donations came from 27 donors, with more than half coming from Frederick and Carroll counties.
About a quarter of Cox’s donations are small individual contributions and more than three-quarters of his funding is from individual donations.
Cox won a five-way race in the April GOP primary. He finished with 44 percent of the vote, more than twice what the runner-up, Jeffrey W. Jones, had. The candidate who raised the most money, Aryeh Shudofsky, finished last, with 7 percent.
Cox faces an uphill battle in the general election because of voter enrollment numbers.
In the April primary, there were 491,706 eligible voters in the 8th District, and Democrats had a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans, according to Maryland State Board of Elections data.
The general election is Nov. 8.
Also on the ballot are Libertarian candidate Jasen Wunder and Green Party candidate Nancy Wallace.