Gov candidate Cordray talks shape of Ohio, Mellencamp lyrics in odd tweets

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Gov candidate Cordray talks shape of Ohio, Mellencamp lyrics in odd tweets

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Tony Dejak
Richard Cordray speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Democrat Richard Cordray was barred by federal law from talking politics while serving as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the past seven years.

Now he is running for Ohio governor and he is unleashed. He’s taken to Twitter and his comments are getting a lot of reacitons.

“Ohio has a unique and pleasing shape, I have always thought. Kind of a pentagon or home plate, with straight sides, a meandering river boundary below, and a partly straight top with a friendly bite mark out of it on the northeast side from Lake Erie,” was his observation posted Jan. 9.

The post garnered more than 700 likes, nearly 200 re-tweets and more than 170 comments – more response than his Dec. 5 announcement that he’s running for governor.

“Dude, put the bong down and slowly back away,” remarked one.

“Very strong first salvo to out-weird Dennis Kucinich. I can’t wait for Dennis’s reply,” said another.

“Rich r u okay,” said another.

Cordray campaign spokesperson Luke Blocher said in a written statement: “Rich writes the tweets himself and they serve as an accurate reflection of who he is: thoughtful, funny, and yes, sometimes a little nerdy. While he would be the first to admit that not everyone appreciates his dad jokes, the response Rich has gotten has been largely positive because his tweets are authentic - not focus-grouped or poll-tested - and showcase his love for our state and appreciation for all it has to offer.”

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, who is running against Cordray for the Democratic Party nomination, wasn’t sure what to make of Cordray’s tweets.

“I’m trying to develop legislative plans to give Ohio better opportunities and he’s talking about the shape of Ohio. I guess it’s a cool shape but we have to work about things that impact people,” he said.

Republican Jai Chabria, a long-time ally of Gov. John Kasich, was more blunt: “This is completely bizarre….This is just bad strategy. People are making fun of him now.”

State Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican running for attorney general, challenged Ohio’s political journalists to write about Cordray’s tweets.

“Cordray has always been bright and a bit odd. His Twitter feed seems to be himself, unfiltered. I guess voters will get to decide if they’re comfortable with it,” Yost told this newspaper.

Twitter is home to an endless loop of political insider commentary, shared articles and reactions. Love it or hate it, President Donald Trump uses Twitter as a direct line of communication with the world.

Cordray’s first 200 tweets are a mix of newsy tidbits, shout outs to political allies, wonky policy observations and calls for Ohioans to come together. And then there are some head-scratchers like this one posted Jan 7:

“I found myself thinking this morning that our state government should be like a strong and mighty tower that all can see even from a distance and know it is there to protect and support them. Do we feel that today?”

University of Cincinnati political scientist David Niven, a former speechwriter for Democrat Ted Strickland, said Cordray tweets like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life and his messages sound like Cordray.

” People want direct access to a candidate, what he’s thinking about, what he cares about. He’s obviously giving people that, because there’s nothing in Cordray’s tweets that sounds like a consultant wrote it up and then sent it to a focus group to see what they thought,” Niven said. “The downside here is it’s all very corny and homey sounding.”

He added, “Every campaign struggles with the balance on social media between making it real versus keeping it safe and on message. If it’s not real enough, then it’s not interesting. But if it’s too real, then it’s going to veer off message. On balance though, Cordray is doing something his rivals desperately need to do, which is get attention.”

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