Democrat Richard Cordray's Big Win

May 9, 2018

Former Ohio Attorney General and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Chief Rich Cordray will be running as the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in November after winning last night’s primary. And his victory was resounding.

“I congratulate Mike DeWine tonight for winning one of the ugliest campaigns I have ever seen. We now have a clear choice in November. And the things we stand for could not be more different." - Richard Cordray

Many political pundits thought the race would be close but, in the end, Cordray won about 2/3 of the votes in a field of six candidates. And he managed to do so by spending around $1.7 million, and without a blistering campaign fight like that of the man who will face him this fall…..Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine.

“I congratulate Mike DeWine tonight for winning one of the ugliest campaigns I have ever seen. We now have a clear choice in November. And the things we stand for could not be more different,” Cordray said.

That’s not to say Cordray’s win was a political cake walk. Former Cleveland mayor and former congressman Dennis Kucinich waged a strong campaign, getting support from “Our Revolution,” the political group inspired by Bernie Sanders, and a key endorsement from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. But in days leading up to the election, there were questions about Kucinich’s ties with Syrian leader Bashir Al-Assad. Still, at his campaign night event in Cleveland, Kucinich promised to continue to talk about issues he raised - like health care for all and environmental protections.

“We move forward in a cause that is much bigger than a single campaign. 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 told supporters.

Kucinich got about 23% 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 and we just relied on grass roots but when you rely on grass roots, and it’s the first time that you’ve ran 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.

Schiavoni intends to serve out his term in the state 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 a little over one percent of the vote.

Where does Cordray go from here?

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.

Did GOP candidates tout issues that could hurt them in November?

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.

“You know 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. We now know that 71% of voters support Medicaid expansion. So Mike DeWine and Mary Taylor have spent millions of dollars embracing a position that is toxic,” Pepper said.

Voter turnout didn't show signs of Democratic voter enthusiasm 

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 less than a fifth of registered voters cast ballots - and 20 percent more Republican ballots were cast than Democratic ones. 

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