By John Celock
The former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau kicked off a long-awaited bid for Ohio governor Tuesday, with a video highlighting praise for him by former President Barack Obama and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D).
Richard Cordray, who stepped down from the CFPB post last month, released a video Tuesday as part of his entry into the crowded field to succeed term-limited Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R). The video highlighted praise that Obama and Warren gave him for his tenure heading the national consumer protection agency.
“Americans are better off because of what Rich has done as their watchdog,” Obama said in a past video clip used in the announcement video.
Cordray used the video to say that he wants to combat special interests and to attack President Donald Trump. Cordray’s decision in his final hours at the CFPB to designate his deputy, Leandra English, as acting director has led to a court battle between English and Trump, who has tapped federal Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as the bureau’s temporary head. Trump and English have used different laws to say who is in charge. A federal judge has awarded a preliminary decision saying that Mulvaney is in charge. Cordray stepped down – months ahead of the end of his term – in order to seek the governorship.
“President Trump’s agenda is all about creating conflict and dividing our country.” Cordray said. “At the same time the state government is waging a war on local government and has been for years.”
Cordray also said that he wants to stop special interests in Ohio government, saying that he saw it in Washington and continues to see it in Columbus. Among the special interests he discussed were charter schools and pharmaceutical companies.
Cordray enters a crowded Democratic primary for the governorship. Former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state Rep. Connie Pillich and state Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni have all entered the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci have all announced gubernatorial campaigns.
Last week, Secretary of State Jon Husted pulled out of the GOP gubernatorial field in order to become DeWine’s running mate for lieutenant governor.
Cordray has been around Ohio politics for over two decades, including winning election to two statewide offices. Cordray served one term in the state House of Representatives before losing a bid for Congress in 1992. He then served as the state’s solicitor general for 16 months before then Attorney General Lee Fischer (D) was defeated by Republican Betty Montgomery in 1994. Cordray then lost a 1998 race for attorney general to Montgomery 62 percent to 38 percent.
Cordray finished third in a four-way Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and then was elected Franklin County treasurer in 2002. He was elected state treasurer in 2006 and won a special election for state attorney general in 2008. He was defeated for a full term as attorney general in 2010 by DeWine. Warren then tapped Cordray to be the CFPB’s enforcement chief before Obama tapped him as the bureau’s first permanent director in 2013.
Cordray used the video to say that he plans to focus on raising wages in the state and reducing costs for housing and college if elected governor.
“I’m running for governor to make things fairer for Ohio families,” he said.