GOP division kept state rep in politics
Just 114 votes separated Rep. Ray Cox, R-Bonner Springs, from GOP challenger Willie Dove in the August primary. His winning margin on Tuesday wasn't quite as narrow.
Cox, who ran unopposed in Tuesday's general election, won his seventh consecutive term as representative of the 39th District, which covers areas in Basehor, Bonner Springs and Shawnee.
"You've got to tough it out for the primary because that's where it all seems to happen," Cox said. "The primary is usually where the damage is done."
Not that Cox is ever too concerned on Election Day. Unopposed or not, Cox said nothing tops off a challenging campaign like an Election Day stroll on the golf course.
"On Election Day, I go play golf," he said. "I figure it's over. You don't think about it. You wake up, you go vote and you play golf. When Election Day comes, you've done all you can do and whatever's going to happen is going to happen."
Cox, a moderate Republican, said he never intended to serve office as long as he has. Before the end of the 2004 legislative session, Cox was considering not running for re-election.
The failure by legislators to fix flaws in the state's school finance formula convinced Cox to stay in the game he's played for more than a decade now.
"I'd wanted to retire after five terms, but I've been so frustrated that I've run again," he said. "What I want to do is see things through."
Another factor in Cox remaining in the political realm is that he believes the voice of the moderate Republican is slowly becoming extinct in the House.
He said more and more GOP candidates are seeking to win elections by reaching to the far right of the party and campaigning solely on social issues -- anti-abortion, gun control and gay marriage -- has helped divide the Republican Party.
The eradication of the moderates is a detriment to legislators such as Cox, who said he and other GOP moderates often formed coalitions with their counterparts across the aisle to pass legislation.
"You need some stability -- you need some grey hair hanging around for continuity, for some consistency," Cox said.
Cox attributed a constituent-first philosophy as a reason why voters have continually nodded his way every two years.
"You just have to be up front, be yourself and service (your district) where you can," he said. "There's got to be some problem-solving done outside the legislative meeting room. Is it helping people? Yes, and that's what it's all about.
"You can't get wrapped up as state rep being a big deal. It isn't. You're there to serve more than anything else."