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In Ohio, A Key Test for Politicians Willing to Challenge Corporate Power

If Cordray’s message of economic Populism and Progressivism prevails in this election, it will show not only the Democratic Party but the Nation that fighting for the people against entrenched corporate power is a winning strategy and the future of the Republic.

(From left) Candidate for Lieutenant Governor Betty Sutton, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren speak to a crowd at the TRISM cafe in Columbus, Ohio on November 1, 2018. Warren was asking people to raise their arms who are voting on Tuesday. Cordray was appearing alongside Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to promote voter participation. (Photo: Brooke LaValley / Dispatch)

America’s most important election this fall is the Governor’s race in Ohio pitting Democrat Richard Cordray against Republican Mike DeWine.
 
Ohio has a long tradition of predicting the national mood, even in off-year elections. The state sets the tone not only for national issues, but most importantly for key regional issues that resonate throughout the Nation’s heartland.
 
The urgent  importance of this battle centers on the extraordinary work of the Democratic candidate: Richard Cordray. Cordray is special. He is a Democrat from an earlier era of Roosevelt, Wilson and Jefferson who has an unparalleled record of fighting—and winning—for working Americans against the special interests.
 
If Cordray’s message of economic Populism and Progressivism prevails in this election, it will show not only the Democratic Party but the Nation that fighting for the people against entrenched corporate power is a winning strategy and the future of the Republic.
 
Many believe Cordary is the leading public servant of his generation. Best known for heading up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, Cordray fought the special interests and returned over $12 billion to consumers, workers, taxpayers and citizens  who were illegally fleeced by the Big Banks, the pay day lenders, mortgage lenders, auto lenders and other special interests. 
 
The positive impact on ordinary Americans is extraordinary because Cordray—a tough as nails prosecutor and advocate—understands the deterrent effect of the law. Cordray stopped cold predatory lenders who were cheating active military soldiers and veterans by writing unscrupulous and illegal loans in the communities next to America's military bases.  He saved hundreds of homes belonging to senior citizens in Ohio from foreclosure.  He went after Pay Day lenders in Ohio who charge over 500% interest on rapacious loans that consign regular citizens to a life-time of debt.   Each of these fines meeted-out to corporate wrongdoers served notice on these bad actors and probably prevented tens of thousands of Ohioans and Americans from being cheated, fleeced, de-frauded, dis-respected and chiseled as so many Americans are when the cop is not on the corporate crime beat.
 
There is no politician in America who can come close to Rich Cordray's record of fighting and winning against corporate power and putting money in the pockets of regular folks and protecting them from financial predators.
 
Cordray has dedicated his life to public service: besides heading up the Consumer Bureau he served as the Attorney General of Ohio, Treasurer of Ohio, and Ohio Solicitor. His resume is impressive: he has argued before the Supreme Court multiple times; he clerked for two Supreme Court Justices and was a five-time National Jeopardy champion.  Cordray is the type of dedicated individual we need in public office.
 
Many believe that Cordray is Ohio's new MVP:  Most Valuable Public Servant.    
 
I first met Cordray 30 years ago in law school.  I don't know him that well because, unlike many politicians, he doesn't brag on himself. 
 
I had to find out for myself that public service is built into Rich Cordray's DNA.
 
Late one afternoon I was volunteering in Ohio and I knocked on the door of a voter in a key neighborhood.   When a middle-aged father answered I asked him if he was voting for Rich Cordray.  “Sure I am” he said.  “He has my vote.” 
 
I asked him why and here is what he said: “Rich grew up in my neighborhood and he and his brother Frank used to follow around after me.  I worked with his Father at the Orient Development Center.”
 
“What’s that?” I asked.
 
“The Orient Development Center is a facility for severely mentally-handicapped individuals. Rich’s father ran the Orient Development Center for many years and was spectacular in devising programs to assist the mentally-handicapped attain skills to integrate into society, find jobs and learn life skills. Rich’s father did that despite the fact that he himself was legally blind. Rich's dad believed that even though he had a handicap in life, his mission was still to serve others."
 
The Ohio voter I met explained how Rich's mother was pretty extraordinary too: she devoted herself to social work and helping others and created Ohio's first ever Foster Grandparent program.
 
I know of no other elected official who has not only devoted himself to serving the public, but has spent so much time fighting the interests on behalf of ordinary Americans and winning.
 
Rich has stood with us, let’s stand with him. He has more than earned our vote, our support and our respect.

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Carl J. Mayer

Carl J. Mayer is the author of Shakedown, a book about how to fight corruption in American politics. He can be reached at carlmayer.com.

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