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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Cordray Steps Down, Signals Potential Run for Governor

Richard Cordray

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray is stepping down from that post before the end of the month. That’s thought by many to signal that he’s running for governor.

Speculation about whether Cordray would run for governor in 2018 has been just that – speculation. He hasn’t talked about it publicly because he can’t while he’s is in his post as the head of the federal bureau that works on behalf of consumers. State Rep. David Leland, who is a friend of Cordray’s, says he doesn’t know if Cordray will step into the race.

“Rich has been an outstanding servant in the state of Ohio. He served in the Legislature. He was elected as our state treasurer. He was elected as our attorney general.

"And so he’s won statewide election in the state of Ohio but more importantly than that, he’s been working for working families across the United States of America, making sure they are not being ripped off by banks and other institutions. And we need a person like that in Ohio.”

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper says if Cordray enters the primary, he will need to be vetted, just like the four other Democrats who have formally entered the race at this point.

“We feel good about next year about our candidates. Whoever the candidate is will be running to change things in Ohio, and the Republicans will basically be representing the status quo that is leaving a lot of people out.”

GOP has already targeted Cordray
Ohio Republican Party spokesman Blaine Kelly disagrees, in a statement that recalls some of the language that Donald Trump used in his presidential campaign last year.

“Crooked Richard Cordray quit his bureaucratic dream job as the head of a structurally unconstitutional and unaccountable government agency in order to run for governor here in Ohio. So I don’t think this is going to fly with Ohio voters. Ohio voters know a swamp creature when they see one and just like Hillary Clinton, Crooked Cordray can’t be trusted.

What about the other Dems?
Some of the four Democrats already in the race for governor are also critical of Cordray, who many see as the likely front-runner if he gets into the race. Faith Oltman, a spokeswoman for gubernatorial candidate and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley says by leaving, Cordray is doing what President Trump couldn’t – undoing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau altogether.

“Trump and his administration are eager to unravel all of the Obama-era safeguards put in place to help protect American’s wallets and Cordray is turning his back on the progress we’ve made.

Democratic candidate and former state lawmaker Connie Pillich was also critical of Cordray’s announcement.

“It’s disheartening and disappointing that my friend, Richard Cordray, would abandon his role of protecting consumers and turn over this critical agency to Donald Trump. Ohio working people can be sure that every decision I make as governor will be about strengthening and protecting middle class families and not fueled by my own political ambitions.”

But Former Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni says he’s not worried about Cordray’s potential entry into the Democratic primary.

“Richard Cordray is another recycled candidate that people are sick of. I respect the work he’s done in Washington and as attorney general, but I don’t think he’s a good candidate for gGovernor this year. People want somebody new, somebody different, they want somebody who is going to inspire them.”

And Randy Borntrager, the spokesman for former Congresswoman Betty Sutton, isn’t slamming Cordray for stepping down.

“Ohio deserves a governor that will be a champion for middle class and working families because they need a chance to succeed. That’s what Betty Sutton has done her entire career and that’s what she will continue to do in her race for governor.”

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill has said he intends to jump into the race for governor if Cordray doesn’t, but said he wouldn’t file paperwork till the deadline in February.

If Cordray runs, he’ll have to start the vetting process immediately to be part of the next Democratic candidate debate in Cleveland on Dec.4.  He’ll also have to raise money but many believe he can easily outraise the other four Democrats by using his national connections. 

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.