Republican Governors Association will be headed by former campaign manager to Virginia's Bob McDonnell

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January 3, 2011

By Eileen McGuire-Mahony

Phil Cox, a campaign veteran who oversaw Republican Bob McDonnell's sweeping 2009 victory in Virginia's gubernatorial contest, is set to become the new Executive Director of the RGA.[1]

Cox was already part of the RGA during their banner year in 2010, when he was tasked with day to day work on a handful of key races, including Florida and Pennsylvania. The outcomes of both those races, victories for the GOP, let Cox show his ability both to flip a Democratically held seat and to secure a narrow victory in an electoral battleground.

Moving up to take over the executive director position, Cox succeeds Nick Ayer, who held the position beginning in 2007 and crafted the four-year plan that culminated in the 2010 races. Republicans now govern 29 states and Cox will say only that his aim is for his party to hold more seats than they already do. In 2011, only three seats are in play; Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Republicans look poised to retain power in Louisiana and Mississippi, the two states they already hold. This makes Cox's first contest Kentucky, where Governor Steve Beshear is seeking reelection in a race currently seen as a toss-up leaning slightly toward Democratic retention. His first major trial may come in 2012, when a dozen seats will be in play. Included in the 2012 races are seven chances to claim more seats for the GOP - and five seats to defend.

Cox has his predecessor's vote of confidence as he takes the helm; Ayers praised Cox's combination of knowledge about Washington's inner workings and the ins and outs of gubernatorial campaigns. Cox is also expected to get on well with the new Chair of the RGA, freshly reelected Texas Governor Rick Perry. Governor Perry himself succeeds Haley Barbour, Mississippi's term-limited executive, who may be shifting his attention to national office.


  1. Politico, "Cox named RGA executive director", January 3, 2011