John Cox, the California Republican candidate for governor, will “no longer” use a story a Holocaust survivor told him — comparing DMV wait lines to lines to get processed as a Jewish person in pre-war Germany — to illustrate the long waits at the notoriously sluggish agency.
Cox spokesperson Matt Shupe told TPM Thursday that while it was an “honest mistake” when Cox said Wednesday that DMV lines were “worse” than concentration camps, the candidate would find a better way to highlight Californian’s frustrations with the agency.
During a visit to a local DMV on Wednesday, Cox reportedly told a story about a Holocaust survivor who he met at a DMV in Long Beach, California.
“He survived concentration camps, and he said this was worse. He’s 90 years old and he had to wait four hours down in Long Beach. Can you imagine that?” Cox said, according to the Capital Public Radio.
Shupe clarified to TPM what Cox meant to say: “The guy said that (the lines) reminded him of 1937 Germany when you had to wait in line to get processed. … John has told this story a few times, he misspoke. He basically tried to condense it, you know, and he misspoke. And so it was an honest mistake, there was no deeper implication.”
When asked why Cox used the story to compare two vastly different sets of circumstances, Shupe said it was, in part, simply the “novelty factor” of meeting a Holocaust survivor.
“John likes to tell stories of people … and when he told me this, I was amazed that he met a Holocaust survivor, there’s not many who are still alive,” he said. “There’s a novelty factor … It’s one of those fantastical stories that it’s almost too interesting to not (share). … John is not a career politician, he’s a businessman, he’s not some polished politician.”
The California DMV has become a focal point for Cox — who will face Democrat Gavin Newsom in November — in recent days, after the state legislature voted against auditing the agency that received a $70 million expenditure last year to improve wait lines. According to Shupe, despite the funding increase, wait times at the DMV are nearly 60 percent worse.
“There’s a lot of outrage going on out here,” he said. “The legislature won’t even audit, it’s just an audit. ‘Show us what’s going on so we can fix the problem.’ They won’t even do that and they’re willing to sacrifice the entire day of all these people who are forced to go to the DMV and that’s the issue here. It’s government mismanagement and it affects every Californian and it shows how out of touch these legislators are.”