03242018What's Hot:

Cordray gets lukewarm homecoming

Ohio Democrats have been waiting and watching Richard Cordray’s moves for months, trying to figure out whether he was going to return home to run for governor. Now, with his dramatic departure from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, they may have gotten their answer.

Cordray’s decision to resign as director of the CFPB — and simultaneously thumb his nose at President Donald Trump by appointing his successor at the agency — has managed to create the kind of buzz around his prospective bid that most candidates can only dream of.

Story Continued Below

Even so, Cordray’s noisy exit from Washington is no guarantee of success back home. The Ohio governor’s race is already a crowded affair — if Cordray runs, he would be the sixth Democrat in the contest. And within his own party, potential rivals are already laying out the lines of attack.

Democratic state Sen. Joe Schiavoni says Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general and state treasurer, isn’t exactly a fresh face.

“He’s been in Washington for how many years?…I think as attorney general I think he did a decent job but at the end of the day when I’m traveling around people want something new,” he said. “They don’t want to see somebody that’s been in politics for 30 and 40 years just running for another position. So I’m just saying that’s what I’m hearing. I think that rings true.”

Others suggest they’ll use his time at the agency — and some of the details from the drama surrounding his abrupt resignation — against him.

“Cordray has his own issues leaving and I think there’s a wide gulf of conventional wisdom in D.C. versus Ohio where he has local problems in the Columbus area. He doesn’t have that strong of a track record of winning general elections,” a top adviser to one of the Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidates said. “The CFPB thing when he left is just going to be a cloud over him for at least a couple months because of the way he’s handled it where he apparently didn’t ask his own general counsel of what they thought legally and what the implications are for giving Trump the CFPB.”

Those implications trouble some progressives who believe Cordray’s decision to step down will undermine the agency — and leave it vulnerable to the predations of Republicans who want to dismantle it.

“The CFPB has done good work to protect consumers, but by resigning Cordray is finally doing what Trump couldn’t — undoing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Trump and his administration are eager to unravel all of the Obama-era safeguards put in place to help protect Americans’ wallets. Cordray is turning his back on the progress we’ve made and surely emboldening Trump and Republicans in Congress to dismantle this consumer watchdog organization,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in a statement after Cordray announced his departure.

“I don’t want to put a judgment call on his personal decision. He made a decision and even people who don’t like his decision got to respect it,” says former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, who is president of the Bernie Sanders-affiliated group, Our Revolution. “Is it in peril? No doubt about it because we have a president that sides with Wall Street at all costs.”

Still, by rolling a grenade into the succession process — Cordray defied Trump by naming the agency’s chief of staff, Leandra English, as deputy director, sparking turmoil — the former CFPB director has unquestionably captured the attention of his party in one of the nation’s biggest swing states. Democratic officials expect him to officially join the race in the next few weeks.

“It’s the perfect entrée. I mean, the front page of national newspapers and all kinds of electronic coverage and he’s battling with the least popular person in the Democratic primary in the history of the party,” said Greg Haas, a former chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party. “It’s a great message to progressives. He’s a hero to progressives for the way he’s taking on Donald Trump.”

Ohio Democrats want candidates who have shown an ability to stand up to Trump, said state Rep. David Leland.

President Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty Images

“The polling that I’ve seen among Democrats in the state of Ohio, the number one issue for Democrats in the state of Ohio for a candidate who’s running for governor is that they want a person who has the ability and the willingness to stand up to Donald Trump,” Leland said. “That’s the number one issue. There are other issues that are important but that by far is the greatest concern and the greatest desire of Democrats.”

In a state that Trump carried by eight percentage points in 2016, it’s also not entirely clear that Cordray’s defiant stance toward Trump will be an asset in a general election. The GOP has nevertheless closely tracked Cordray’s activities from the outset of the 2018 governor’s race, filing multiple FOIA requests and calling on the Democrat to divulge his thinking about his future plans.

“Richard Cordray has been extremely secretive and deceptive in his actions and appears to have been putting together a gubernatorial run for months,” RGA communications director Jon Thompson said in a statement. “He should come clean about his power-hungry ambitions and admit to Ohio voters what he’s really up to.”

Even though Cordray was prohibited by law from making preparations to run for governor, a small group of state Democratic operatives have been pushing a shadow campaign on his behalf.

Leandra English, Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren are pictured. | Getty Images

Since his departure from the agency that activity has increased — some Democrats say the pro-Cordray effort is already reaching out and recruiting staff.

The biggest hurdle he faces, says Sharen Neuhardt, a former Ohio candidate for lieutenant governor, is his time away from the state.

“People always think that folks that have been in elected office in the past are going to have all this high name ID,” said Neuhardt, who has close ties with Ohio donors. “So a lot of people at first blush say, ‘Well, Richard Cordray because he was the treasurer of Ohio and attorney general, he has a lot of name ID.’ But that’s eight years ago and there’s really not that much attention that the average Ohioan has paid to the good work that’s been done at the Consumer [Financial] Protection Bureau.”

This article tagged under:

Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

comments powered by HyperComments

More on the topic