Ohio: Democrat Richard Cordray puts Republican governorship in jeopardy

Cordray, once a game show champion, takes on Mike DeWine in one of the most important and closest gubernatorial races

Ben Jacobs in Dayton, Ohio | The Guardian | Sat 28 Jul 2018 06.00 EDT


In 2016, Ohio overwhelmingly backed a rightwing populist with a domineering personality who hosted a reality TV show. In 2018, Democrats hope the state will vote for a progressive populist who was once a champion on Jeopardy.

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Richard Cordray, the Democratic nominee for governor, possesses a unique anti-charisma. Before his political career, the earnest and lanky candidate, he used his Jeopardy winnings to pay his taxes and buy a used car. A former statewide elected official, he spent seven years in Washington as head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) before launching his gubernatorial bid.

The Republican nominee is Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine, a fixture of Buckeye state politics who has been elected to both chambers of Congress and was lieutenant governor before becoming the top state law enforcement official in 2010, when he narrowly defeated the incumbent: Cordray.

In a set of high-stakes midterm elections, in a perennial swing state, this is one of the most important and closest gubernatorial races.

Cordray has sought to characterize DeWine as a political relic. In a hotel conference room in Dayton recently, speaking to an audience of union plumbers and pipefitters, he said: “Whatever you think of Mike DeWine and myself, it is difficult to look at Mike DeWine and see [the] future of Ohio. I represent that future.”

The applause was rather stilted. The plumbers seemed more interested in their coffees and their phones. But in conversation later, Cordray seemed to have been well received. Kelly Jones, a burly union pipefitter from Columbus, told the Guardian he “loved” the speech. A loyal Democrat, he crossed himself about the midterms and said he hoped Ohioans would “wake up and realize what’s going on and make some changes”.

Governor Kasich has done some things that I applaud and have supported, such as Medicaid expansion Richard Cordray

In fact, Cordray and DeWine are almost secondary figures. Much will revolve around the two most significant Ohio politicians of the modern era, Senator Sherrod Brown and Governor John Kasich.

Kasich has become a deeply divisive figure. The two-term governor was a R