Former Ohio Attorney General and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Chief Rich Cordray is the Democratic gubernatorial candidate after winning Tuesday’s primary. His victory was resounding.
With a large number of undetermined Democratic voters, many political pundits thought the race would be close. But Cordray won about two-thirds of the votes in a field of six candidates. He spent about $1.7 million and largely avoided the blistering campaign fight with his opponents that marked the Republican gubernatorial race between Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor
“I congratulate Mike DeWine tonight for winning one of the ugliest campaigns I have ever seen,” Cordray said. “We now have a clear choice in November. And the things we stand for could not be more different.”
In the primary, Cordray's closest challenger was rormer Cleveland mayor and former congressman Dennis Kucinich. He got support from “Our Revolution,” the political group inspired by Bernie Sanders, and a key endorsement from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He repeatedly his Cordray over Cordray's previous support from the NRA.
But in days leading up to the election, there were questions about Kucinich’s ties with Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad.
At his campaign-night event in Cleveland, Kucinich promised to continue to talk about issues he raised, including health care for all and environmental protections.
“We move forward in a cause that is much bigger than a single campaign,” Kucinich said. “This is a movement. And it’s a movement that involves people of all colors, all economic situations. It’s a movement that involves the heart and soul of this country.”
Kucinich got about 23 percent of the vote. Sen. Joe Schiavoni came in a distant third with a little less than 10 percent.
“We just didn’t have the resources in order to match Cordray’s TV buys at the end. We just relied on grass roots, but when you rely on grass roots, and it’s the first time that you’ve run a statewide race, it’s hard to pick up those casual Democratic voters who didn’t watch the debate, who didn’t go to the town halls, that aren’t engaged until the very end,” Schiavoni said.
Kitchen table issues
Schiavoni intends to serve out his term in the Ohio Senate and says he’ll support Cordray in November.
Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill couldn’t be reached after results came in but earlier in the day, he congratulated the other candidates for coming together to run a good race. Two other Democrats in the race garnered just over 1 percent of the vote.
As for Cordray, he said he will push forward with what he calls kitchen table issues: things that he says affect ordinary Ohio families.
“We’ll say no to for-profit charter school scams, no to giveaways to special interests, no to an ideological agenda that seeks to divide us,” Cordray said.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper says he thinks the candidates will unify behind Cordray now. Pepper thinks DeWine will have a problem in the general election because the Republican candidates have gone so far to the right of Ohio voters to win their primary.
“They both have spent much of the campaign attacking Medicaid expansion, which was John Kasich’s, one of his big things he did as governor,” Pepper said. “We now know that 71 percent of voters support Medicaid expansion. So Mike DeWine and Mary Taylor have spent millions of dollars embracing a position that is toxic.”
In the days preceding the election, there was a lot of talk about a blue tide and Democratic voter enthusiasm. But if that’s a factor, it didn’t show up in the voter turnout for this election, where about a fifth of registered voters cast ballots, and 20 percent more Republican ballots were cast than Democratic ones.