With just a week until its first debate among four announced candidates for governor, Ohio’s Democratic party is playing the waiting game to see if two high profile politicians could also jump into the race. Two possible contenders were testing the waters during one of the year’s biggest political holidays.
The band was playing the grills were fired up as the smell of barbecue filled the air for the AFL-CIO’s Labor Picnic in Cincinnati.
The celebration of union workers in southwest Ohio draws in a lot of elected officials and political contenders.
It’s also a good place to test the waters for a possible gubernatorial run. Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray wouldn’t say if that’s why he was there. In fact he couldn’t.
Cordray is currently the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal job that bars him from making any public political moves.
So when he took the stage at the AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic, he only made comments based around his work at the CFPB.
“We need a market place and we need a justice system and we need other key pieces to operate more effectively and truly reflect the principle, the very American principle that every one of us counts. Again it’s not just about the money it’s also about dignity and respect,” Cordray said.
Thousands of people were at the picnic, but Cordray’s crowd was small – possibly because any buzz about his appearance died down when it was clear he wasn’t resigning from his federal post.
And while Cordray was meeting and greeting union workers in Cincinnati, another possible gubernatorial contender was on the other end of the state doing the same thing.
Jerry Springer. The host of a tabloid talk show and former mayor of Cincinnati was in Cleveland, telling the crowd that he was worried about business in America and the obsession with larger profit margins.
“One day we are going to wind up with three companies in America and most people replaced by computers and machines or workers overseas who works for less money. So what makes sure that workers are going to make a living wage? Unions!”
Springer has been making the rounds at public events as well, appearing at forums and last year’s Democratic National Convention.
When he talks to groups he’s not shy about what he calls his “stupid TV show”. And he’s been critical of the Trump Administration saying the White House is steering America in the wrong course.
“We have a White House now that is really opposed, for the first time in our lifetime, we have a White House that is opposed to the idea of America. We are a multicultural society. That is America! The symbol of America is the Statue of Liberty, not a wall,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Springer has floated out the idea of a statewide run. He considered the U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2004 but didn’t join the race either time. And the only time he did run statewide, in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1982, he lost to eventual winner Richard Celeste.
“At one point I criticized Jerry Springer for even thinking about running because of his TV show.”
That’s former Democratic Party Chair Jim Ruvolo, who admits Springer’s identity as the host of a tabloid talk show isn’t as much of a crutch as he once thought.
"The truth is, after Donald Trump, I’m not criticizing him anymore. I mean people seem to forgive and forget if you have a compelling message.”
Ruvolo says the Ohio Democratic Party lacks the resources to be the lynch pin of anyone’s campaign, citing the fact that the party has been swept in the past two statewide executive races.
He says Springer brings attention to the primary, while Cordray isn’t as well known.
“So I’m not sure Rich changes the race dramatically by getting in, unless and this is a big unless, he brings with him the money that Elizabeth Warren and some national Democrats will raise for him, if that happens then he clearly will have an impact on the race.”
A decision from either potential candidate could come soon, the first Democratic Gubernatorial Debate is set to take place in Belmont County next week.