When tabloid talk show host Jerry Springer walks around town, his fans shout out “Jerry! Jerry!” They want to shake his hand. They want to take a selfie with him.
Springer, a Democrat who once served as Cincinnati mayor, is now weighing whether he can leverage that celebrity — along with the baggage of hosting a controversial show for 26 years — into a successful run for Ohio governor.
“He is in the throes of sorting this out and he can’t take too much longer,” said Jene Galvin, Springer’s close friend and long-time collaborator. Galvin and Springer produce an online podcast together.
Galvin said Democrats from different parts of the state asked Springer to consider running for governor.
Springer abandoned a chance to run for U.S. Senate in 2004 because of negative views of his talk show, which thrived on bad taste stunts, brawls and controversy. Nonetheless, Springer is well connected in the Ohio Democratic Party, is a charismatic speaker, and can debate a wide breadth of issues.
The fact that a reality TV show host — Donald Trump — won the White House could work both for and against Springer’s chances of winning the governor’s job, Galvin said. “It’s a double edged sword.”
If Springer gets into the primary, it could be a crowded field. Four Democrats have already declared — Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati and former U.S. representative Betty Sutton of the Akron area.
Former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray, who runs the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is expected to decide soon whether he’ll resign his federal post and get into the race.
Springer told CNN earlier this week that “I haven’t decided anything.”
He is in Cleveland Monday for a Labor Day event.