Jerry Springer, Richard Cordray could make governor race interesting

Two potential 2018 Democratic candidates for governor will appear at opposite ends of Ohio on Labor Day: Richard Cordray, director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Jerry Springer, once a Cincinnati City Council member and TV news anchor, now best-known as ringmaster of “The Jerry Springer Show.”

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Four other Democrats have already announced for governor: Former state Rep. Connie Pillich of Cincinnati; state Sen. Joseph Schiavoni of suburban Youngstown; former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of suburban Akron; and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. But some Democrats may believe that only a Democrat who’s previously won statewide (Cordray) or who’s super-well-known (Springer) can beat Ohio Republicans’ victory machine.

Cordray will speak Monday at the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council’s annual Labor Day Picnic, at Coney Island amusement park. Springer meanwhile will attend a Cleveland march and rally led by members of the Service Employees International Union and the Fight for $15 movement (a minimum wage of $15 per hour). The union said the march will “call on corporations to raise wages and on politicians to rewrite the rules so more working people can join together in unions.”

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“We can all wave our American flags at the seventh-inning stretch at every ballpark in the country,” Springer said in a written statement, “but the real way Americans can show their patriotism is by fighting for an economy and a government that helps working-class families get ahead.”

Resume-wise, it’s not hard to see Cordray as governor. His Statehouse debut came when he unseated Republican state Rep. Don Gilmore in 1990 in an Ohio House district in western and southern Franklin County. Cordray later was elected state treasurer, then state attorney general, but Republican Mike DeWine unseated him in 2010.

Next, President Barack Obama appointed Cordray director of the CFPB. Cordray’s five-year term as the agency’s head ends next July. Because Cordray’s doing the job he’s supposed to do, Republicans – big surprise – want him gone. They’ve seemingly held off trying to oust him on the if-come that Cordray will soon announce for governor, requiring him to leave the CFPB.

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As for Springer, he ran statewide in 1982 for Ohio Democrats’ gubernatorial nomination, placing third (behind winner Richard F. Celeste and runner-up William J. Brown).

But Springer carried six southwestern counties, including Hamilton. And 1982’s Ohio primary was held after Springer had acknowledged, in a TV campaign ad, he’d once patronized a prostitute and paid her with a check. In the ad, the New York Times reported, Springer also said this: That Ohio’s governor would “have to take some heavy risks and face some hard truths. I’m prepared to do that. This commercial should be proof. I’m not afraid, even of the truth, and even if it hurts.”

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In that 1982 Democratic gubernatorial primary, besides Hamilton County, the five other counties that also supported Jerry Springer for governor were: Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont and Warren. Donald Trump won from 61 percent to 76 percent of the vote in those five counties, which with Hamilton, are parts of several Ohio congressional districts that Republicans now holds. Could Mr. Springer go to Washington, rather than to Columbus?

Whether Springer’s ’82 campaign and TV career make him a prospective officeholder is anyone’s guess; he’s said to be polling. But celebrity can be a plus to slate-makers – even celebrity from a show with such recent episodes as “Sister Slapdown,” and Roped into Sex.”

Footnote: In 2016, nationwide per capita personal income was $49,571. Because of a typographical error, that statistic was misstated in last week's column.

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