Cordray v. DeWine- that is the General Election line up most Statehouse pundits envision to replace Ohio Governor John Kasich. Both are time tested Ohio politicians. With Cordray’s decision to enter the race, quality candidates such as former Congresswoman Betty Sutton, former State Representative Connie Pillich and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley dropped out and supported Cordray. Out of the blue and after Richard Cordray announced his intention to run for Ohio Governor, Dennis Kucinich announced he was running. Cordray’s entrance into the race didn’t deter Dennis Kucinich in the least.
While Richard Cordray, who has served as a State Representative, Franklin County Treasurer, State Treasurer, Ohio AG and Consumer Financial Services Czar for the Obama Administration, is lining up endorsements and raised $2M as his campaign started, Dennis Kucinich should not be underestimated. Kucinich is now over seventy years old but he has lived nine lives in Ohio politics. Elected as the “Boy Mayor of Cleveland” in 1977, Kucinich survived a rocky term as Mayor of Cleveland that included the City entering bankruptcy. Kucinich was defeated by George Voinovich after only two years in office but later was elected to the Ohio Senate and then to Congress where he served from 1997 until 2013. He launched high-profile but unsuccessful Presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008.
Kucinich is clearly a national leader in the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. Kucinich also has the advantage of Cleveland as a political base which holds over 40% of Ohio’s Democratic Primary Election voters. The last high profile Democratic Primary Election for Governor was in 1982. A young member of the Ohio House, Richard Celeste upset Ohio Attorney General and heavy favorite William Brown and a guy named Jerry Springer from Cincinnati (yes the Jerry Springer of TV talk show infamy). Celeste’s Cleveland base and support of then all powerful Ohio Speaker of the House Vern Riffe pushed Celeste over the top and into the Governor’s mansion with a massive General Election victory.
Cordray whose qualifications for Governor are unquestioned and will likely line up most of the traditional Democratic Party endorsements in Ohio and nationally has not held elected office for 8 years since his one term as Ohio Attorney General. Kucinich has a strong name ID and, in fact, a recent poll had Kucinich and Cordray tied at 21% with the largest share of those polled still undecided. Cordray will have a fundraising advantage over Kucinich. The former Ohio Attorney General raised $2 M in the latest campaign finance filings and he will gain support from traditional Democratic groups in and outside of Ohio as well as many in the lobbying community concerned that the struggles of Donald Trump’s Washington may spill into Democratic victories across the state.
Kucinich has launched a far left Gubernatorial campaign with an attack on the shale industry in the state that has developed substantial sources of energy and economic activity in struggling Eastern Ohio. Cordray has started to fire back mainly focused on Attorney General Mike DeWine his likely Republican opponent in the General Election but the thoughtful Cordray is not the streetfighter that Kucinich is. The House Money is still on Cordray but it could be an interesting Primary Election on the Democratic side in Ohio.