Outgoing House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, will not seek a leadership position within the party caucus when it reconvenes in January as the minority.
“I have fought the fight, I have run the race,” Cox said in a letter to the House Republican Caucus. “But now it is time for a new caucus leader who can guide us through our time as a minority party and begin to build again toward the majority.”
Cox, who rose to speaker in 2018 after nearly three decades in the House, will return to the lower chamber as a delegate and not as speaker. He called the loss of Republicans’ majority “disappointing.”
“It just wasn’t our year. The judicial gerrymandering, millions of dollars in outside money, and difficult national environment all contributed in their own ways,” Cox said. “We ran great candidates, both incumbents and challengers, and had a compelling message. I’m grateful for each of you and proud of the campaigns you ran.”
Tuesday night, Cox defeated Democrat Sheila Bynum-Coleman with a margin of 1,304 votes in an expensive race made competitive by court-ordered redistricting. As Cox fought to defend his seat with more than $1 million in campaign spending, the House’s most powerful fundraiser was hamstrung in his ability to help less-experienced candidates.
Ultimately, House Democrats gained at least six seats Tuesday night, erasing House Republicans’ two-seat majority. As of Wednesday, Democrats stood to hold 54 seats to Republicans’ 43, with results pending in three races.
With the loss of the gavel and leadership role, Cox’s office will shrink.
Among the changes is the departure of Matt Moran, Cox’s chief of staff, who is leaving the speaker’s office to work for the law firm Gentry Locke.
“This has been in the works for a long time,” Moran said. “I’ve been in the House of Delegates for eight years. This is a great opportunity for me.”
Moran will work in communications for the firm’s government affairs division based in Richmond, and will eventually register as a lobbyist.
“Matt’s been a tremendous asset to me and the House of Delegates throughout his career. He’s well-respected by a lot of people and I am sure he will find success in his new role at Gentry Locke,” Cox said in a written statement.