Democratic governor candidates debate jobs, taxes, education issues

Richard Cordray expected to get in the race Tuesday

Four Democrats running for governor in 2018 debated issues such as jobs, taxes, education and roads on Monday but looming off stage was a major development: Richard Cordray scheduled his gubernatorial campaign announcement for Tuesday in his hometown of Grove City.

Cordray, who stepped down last month as director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, did not participate in the Cleveland City Club debate.

Former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, one of the five declared Democratic candidates for governor, complained that Cordray “abandoned” the consumer watchdog agency and turned it over to Republican Donald Trump. “Gosh, he was our one voice of hope in D.C. One voice that was standing up for consumers,” she said.

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Pillich, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron focused most of their criticism on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his running mate Jon Husted and other Republicans who have held a firm grip on state government for decades. They found fault with GOP-approved tax breaks and funding cuts for local governments and schools.

“Mike DeWine and Jon Husted have been running this state for too long and it’s all wrong and I am person who is tested and vetted and tried,” Sutton said.

DeWine and Husted represent tired leadership, Whaley said. “I think what the state is looking for is a new kind of leadership, a leadership that comes from the ground, that is about executive experience and really knows what’s going on in their communities,” she said. “Those guys, they’d rather take the word of a lobbyist that listen to someone on the street.”

The candidates agreed that the opiate addiction crisis requires a comprehensive approach, public transit deserves more funding and local governments need more state funds.

The event on Monday was the third forum held by the Ohio Democratic Party to promote Democrats vying to lead the ticket in 2018. Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, who announce he is running for governor and recently stated on his Facebook page that he has slept with 50 women over the years, did not participate in the event.

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Cordray, by far has the most statewide experience, running for statewide office five times and winning twice. And his ties to former President Obama and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who helped establish the consumer bureau, could help him raise some $20 million needed to run a credible gubernatorial campaign.

Cordray won elections to serve as state treasurer and attorney general. He was a five-time Jeopardy! champion, an intern for John Glenn, a law clerk for Judge Robert Bork and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, an Ohio State University law school professor, a state representative and Ohio Solicitor General.

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