When it comes to the world of politics, Dan Cox isn’t a fan of the status quo.

It’s a point that’s very much on display at his home on the northern outskirts of Hamilton.

A few steps from Cox’s backdoor is the red, white and blue plywood float that Ravalli County’s Libertarians pulled in this year’s Memorial Day parade.

Big red letters etched on its side say “Restore Liberty.” In front of those words are two cutouts of the Statue of Liberty.

As members marched, a machine puffed smoke up and around Liberty’s head. The Libertarians wanted parade watchers to know they believe this country is headed down the wrong path.

That’s a message Cox hopes to bring to a statewide stage as the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate.

He knows that’s not going to be an easy task.

That point was driven home recently when Rep. Denny Rehberg pulled out of a Montana Broadcasters Association-sponsored debate at the last minute.

Cox had hoped the debate, scheduled to be televised statewide, would be a springboard for him to spread his message that this country’s two-party system is flawed.

“The way I see it, the most important thing for me is to get into the debate to try to challenge the status quo,” Cox said. “I want to inject liberty into the conversation. I can’t do that from the sidelines.”

“Of course, my ultimate goal is to win,” he said.

Sitting at his kitchen table on a recent morning, Cox acknowledged his competitors – incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican challenger Rehberg – have all the advantages. In a race with national implications, supporters of the two mainstream candidates are spending millions to make sure their message gets out.

Cox’s political war chest is nearly empty. He’s has no plans for any kind of expensive media blitz. He does plan to recycle signs from his last failed state Senate race in an effort to get some name recognition going.

“I won’t have to alter them much to make them work,” he said.

Cox is counting on a loose-knit group of supporters discouraged with the two-party system and his celebrity as someone who took on the system and won to get his name and platform known.

Cox is credited with leading the charge to repeal Ravalli County’s growth policy and the subsequent end of an effort to impose zoning restrictions in the county.

That was his first real exposure to the political process. It left him feeling discouraged.

“I thought it was going to be easy,” he said. “I’d go to the Republican Party, whose platform included property rights, and they would help out.”

When it didn’t work that way, Cox decided to get involved. He became the chair of the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee. At the party’s state convention, Cox said he challenged mainstream members of the Republican Party over the formation of a committee he believed would usurp the power of the counties.

“I didn’t make it on the next rules committee,” he said.

That experience – coupled with an earlier “infiltration” into Ravalli County-based Friends of the Bitterroot group – helped Cox decide to turn his back on the traditional parties.

“Republicans and Democrats basically vote the same,” he said. “Their rhetoric is just different. As the country gets more in debt, people are starting to listen to my message and others like me.”

He found those like-minded people in the state’s growing Libertarian movement.

“Instead of fighting with people while pretending to do the right thing, they are just being people who want to do the right thing,” Cox said. “There is not a bunch of infighting. For us, it’s about principle. It’s not about party.”

Cox is a relative newcomer in the world of politics. His parents weren’t overly active in government, although his father did run for the Utah Legislature years after he left home.

“He started out as a Democrat and then became a RINO (Republican in name only) Republican,” Cox said. “I discovered my viewpoints on my own. They definitely did not come from my parents.”

Cox operates a web-based business that sells fishing lures from his home. Before a divorce, he said he was the main push to begin the thriving Halo Heaven in Conner that sells a variety of children’s costume items on the Internet. His ex-wife now operates that business.

Cox said his campaign is based on the principles found in the U.S. Constitution.

“I can’t go along with policies that compromise the principles that this country is based on,” he said. “Why would I compromise those rights that people have fought and died to maintain? How hard is it for me to show up for a few meetings or throw my name in the hat as a candidate?”

People choose their political party often based on perceptions, Cox said.

For example, he said President Ronald Reagan is considered by many in the Republican Party to be the great conservative.

But, during his tenure, the national debt increased by 189 percent and there were 17 debt ceiling increases under Reagan, Cox said.

“He outspent Obama by a long shot and yet somehow he’s considered a conservative,” Cox said.

Initially encouraged by the values that the fledgling Tea Party brought to the forefront, Cox has been disappointed in its inability to get candidates elected and its shift toward more traditional Republican platforms.

“The Tea Party has done a great deal as far as educating the public about constitutional beliefs and values,” he said. “At the end of the day, establishment Republicans have overtaken the Tea Party and now we’re getting the same old line that our guy may not be very good, but he’s better than the Democrat.”

As this year’s election season heats up, Cox hopes that he’ll have the chance to show people that there’s another choice.

He doesn’t care how the debates unfold.

He just wants them to happen.

“I’ll debate Rehberg by myself. I’ll debate Tester by myself. I’ll debate both of them at the same time,” Cox said. “I don’t care. I just want to debate as often as I can.”

“It seems to me that it’s most important thing a candidate can do,” he said. “They need to show up to debate the issues so the people of Montana can make an informed decision at the ballot box.”

Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

(13) comments

I_Gotta_TellYa

Go home Dan. You're just going to fool around and secure a win for Tester.

voteliberty

People who vote for Cox will be voting for Liberty. Rehberg has to get his base out to vote and if that doesn't happen don't blame Dan Cox. Rehberg has voted to increase taxes, increase regulations and increase the debt limit ceiling over the years and a lot of voters will not support those votes made by Rehberg. I'd like to see both Tester and Rehberg out of office, since neither one represents Montana, but the special interest. We know this to be true because of all the special interest money flowing into Montana. So in the end a vote for Dan Cox is a vote for Dan Cox.

GeneWil

Dan Cox is one of the most dishonest and unscrupulous individuals I have ever met. As the saying goes, he is not fit to be elected dog catcher. In fact Hamilton's animal control officer is a responsible person. Cox is anything but.

Dan Cox lied his way in to the Chairmanship of the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee. He used the Republican Party to help start Celebrating Conservatism. His unstable personality helped him destroy what could have been a positive force in MT.

He later proclaimed that he hated the Republican Party and would do anything in his power to destroy it. He said that to more than one person. In my view he is too dishonest and unprincipled to hold any public office. He knows that he will never be elected Senator. But his campaign is just one more attempt to hurt the GOP.

Mike Miller

Gene, for those of us "not in the know", please give us proof of your statements.

Lee Enfield

This excerpt from the article is terrific:

"As members marched, a machine puffed smoke up and around Liberty’s head. The Libertarians wanted parade watchers to know they believe this country is headed down the wrong path."

That image perfectly captures the essence of Dan Cox and his campaign. Blowing smoke and hoping a few political morons will be dumb enough to vote for him.

What a waste of time.

DA____

Wow!! I agree with Gene Wilson and Lee Enfield in the same column. What is happening to me?

Just My Opinion

voteliberty, aka Dan Cox, is the most egotistical person I have ever met. Even in this article he tries to take full credit for his ex-wifes successful business which grew 400% once Dan left. He has no leadership ability. Anyone who has had any dealings with him knows that he is more than willing to destroy people and organizations for his own self promotion. Fortunately, after the glory of the repeal of the growth policy, in which he had plenty of very competent help, most of those that worked to repeal it have seen how backstabbing he is. His only goal in this election is to destroy Republicans so he can claim victory by being a part of re-electing Democrats to office to "show" those evil republicans that they should have bowed before him and his superior intellect. I would rather vote for Obama than for Dan Cox. Even Obama is less destructive and has less of an ego than Mr. Cox. But that is Just My Opinion!

Dan Cox

Hi everybody,

I think it is pretty interesting that nobody wants to challenge me on principle or the issues. Name calling and false presumptions about my past business life is the weakest of arguments. I wish the paper would have printed much more of Denny's record. He has voted for the Patriot Act, Real ID, TSA, Cash for clunkers funding, surveillance drones, NDAA, raised the debt ceiling a bunch, voted for the huge medicare prescription plan and much more. This is exactly why I had a falling out with the Republican Party. They are mad that I am willing to expose them instead of supporting their unconstitutional records.

I don't hate the Republican Party. I hate the way their candidates vote. It is truly unfortunate that they deceive their constituents every time. Go to www.dancox4senate.com and check out their voting records for yourself. The Republicans would love the debate to be about my character instead of their voting records.

GeneWil

Cox:

You wrote;

"I think it is pretty interesting that nobody wants to challenge me on principle or the issues."

Principle? You know nothing about principle. You know nothing about ethics or morals. Now you have gall to try to claim that you do not hate the Republican Party. Remember this you creep. You said exactly that to at least two women.

My experience of you is that you have no grasp of reality. Do you tell voters that you are convinced that the United States Government blew up the Twin Towers? Don't you subscribe to the theory that Jewish people with businesses in the Towers were told not to go to work on 9/11?

As far as I am concerned you are a paranoid individual who would be a disaster in any public office. What you really need to do is show some class and terminate your so called campaign.

voteliberty

Gene, the Republican party didn't start celebrating conservatism, the group got started because Republicans and Democrats were spending big time. Remember spending went up 83% under Bush and it has gone up quickly under your friend Obama. Were in trouble if our only choices in November are Obama and Obama lite in Mitt Romney. Why not elect candidates that will actually cut spending rather then just cutting the increases. If we did that we wouldn't need to vote Republican or Democrat or Libertarian, but vote for the person willing to go through with their campaign promises to cut taxes and spending and let the free market work.

GeneWil

Cox:

You said;

"Gene, the Republican party didn't start celebrating conservatism, the group got started because Republicans and Democrats were spending big time."

I would like to hear you tell that filthy lie to the Republican who worked the tables and brought food to the start up sessions in Mona's office. The same women manned the tables at the Fair Grounds. Are you telling me that Republicans didn't sell chili and hot dogs at the celebrating Conservatism gatherings? You try to sell that garbage to those people.

I think you have really lost your mind when you say;

"Remember spending went up 83% under Bush and it has gone up quickly under your friend Obama."

My friend Obama? He is your friend, not mine. You are the one working to get him elected. You know that too I suspected that you were working for the DNC, since you have such deep pockets. Who knows?

Talk about your self portrayal as the authority on who was the most legitimate advocate of the Constitution. Barack Obama sees the constitution as restrictive. It doesn't give the government enough room to do what he wants to do politically. He said that Dan. Did you miss that?

"Why not elect candidates that will actually cut spending rather then just cutting the increases. If we did that we wouldn't need to vote Republican or Democrat or Libertarian, ..."
You sound like a kid.

You can not be elected. You know that. Anybody dishonest enough to join the local Republican Party and work within it to destroy it is a person of low character. Forget all of the rhetoric. You are unfit to lead. Period!

Oh, before I forget. Do you tell voters when you campaign that our government blew up the Twin Towers? It would help if you had evidence of this. As it is, your believing that simply illustrates that you are not playing with a full deck.

Dan Cox

Hi Gene,

I think you are confused. My username isn't voteliberty. It is Dan Cox. I like people knowing it is me when I respond. I guess from your responses you have no response for Denny Rehberg's voting record? I thought you might say that I had my facts wrong? Which I would straighten out immediately. Then I thought maybe you might tell me that voting against constitutional rights and big spending were actually good. Instead you attack my character again according to somebody elses comments. I doubt this blog is being read anymore anyway. I only clicked in because the www.lp.org is linking to the article from their home page. I just wanted to check the link.

GeneWil

Cox:

Too bad I couldn't get back to you sooner. You actually said;

"Then I thought maybe you might tell me that voting against constitutional rights and big spending were actually good. "

You should never allow the word character to cross your lips. As far as Denny Rheberg is concerned you can't stand on tip toes and get high enough to shine his shoes. I am sure that he has cast some votes that I disagree with. So what? what politician has ever voted to the satisfaction of every constituent on every issue after being in Washington for years?

There is something infantile about your remarks and those of voteliberty. You blather on about how high minded you are and how people should vote for Libertarians. First of all, Libertarians never win elections. There are not enough of them. Then, locally, they can't distance themselves from you. I'm sure that you know that your name is mud in this valley.

Libertarians here have told everyone who would listen how much they despise you. That is because of who you are personally. Forget about debating issues. Nobody cares how you feel about issues or anything else. You are a pariah. Get that through your stupid and arrogant head.

In closing I want you to know that I agree that this is an old thread. I suggest that you not respond, since I don't care about anything you have to say. But it would be informative if you wrote a Valley Viewpoint about your antisemitism and your belief that the U.S. Government blew up the Twin Towers.

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