Democratic primary for Ohio governor

cleveland.com

Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary for Ohio governor: endorsement editorial

For Democrats in this year’s race for Ohio governor, the choice should come down to passion, vision and an ability to grasp the bully pulpit to inspire Ohioans about the need for change.

Only one candidate fulfills those criteria: Dennis Kucinich, the former Cleveland mayor and nine-term congressman.  

Ohio’s next governor must be a fighter — a fighter for greater equity, justice and common sense; a fighter for the state’s urban centers; and a fighter against the moribund thinking on education, diversity, economic opportunity and home-rule rights that’s held Ohio back for too long.

The editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer is as aware as any could be of Kucinich’s flaws.

But of the major Democratic candidates, Kucinich is the one most likely to challenge Statehouse inertia.

For 24 of the last 28 years, Ohio’s had Republican governors. The Ohio Senate’s been Republican since 1985, the House, apart from two years, since 1995. Old habits die hard. But die they must.

Yes, Kucinich, 71, needs aides who will say no. And he must never again make nice with Syrian butcher Bashar Assad. But business as usual in Columbus has left too many Ohioans behind. And a Kucinich governorship wouldn’t be business-as-usual.

A Democratic governor would likely face a GOP-run Senate and probably a GOP-run House. So he would have to be the megaphone spurring citizens to demand legislative action on such problems as these:

* Unintentional drug overdoses that killed 4,050 Ohioans in 2016, compared to 3,050 a year earlier.

* Accelerating gun violence with a legislature more interested in allowing guns in bars and day care centers than applying common-sense brakes on the most lethal weaponry, requiring universal background checks and letting cities beset with gun crimes set their own policies.

* Infant mortality rates that in Cuyahoga County in 2015 were almost double the national average.

* GOP tax cuts that failed to spur the promised jobs bonanza and instead have widened the income gap. Two Ohio State University researchers recently found that “the last year Ohio’s per capita income was equal to the nation as a whole was 1968.” That was 50 years ago.

Six Democrats want to be governor. The front-runners, besides Cleveland’s Kucinich, are: former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray of suburban Columbus; former Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill of Chagrin Falls; and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Youngstown. Also running: former exotic dancer Larry E. Ealy of Dayton and political newcomer Paul E. Ray of Alliance, neither of whom responded to the editorial board’s invitations to provide campaign materials or participate in endorsement interviews.

Cordray, 58, was director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from its inception in 2012 until last year, and was Ohio’s treasurer from 2007-08. He then served one term as Ohio attorney general before being defeated for re-election in 2010 by Mike DeWine, the front-runner in this year’s Republican primary race for governor.

The well-informed Cordray wants to bring Ohioans together, as partners, to address the state’s problems, but if he’s passionate about leading Ohio or has a vision for its future, he hid it well during the endorsement interview.

O’Neill, 70, a proven statewide vote-getter, wants to create a state mental health hospital network, legalize marijuana and close for-profit prisons. But last November, our editorial board labeled him “unfit for any public office,” after he boasted on Facebook of having been “sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females.” That followed his self-serving decision not to step down as a state Supreme Court justice after announcing his candidacy for governor — later participating in as many as 99 decisions released by the court, in clear contravention of the state Code of Judicial Conduct, which says: “Upon becoming a candidate in a primary or general election for a nonjudicial elective office, a judge shall resign from judicial office.” 

Schiavoni, 38, the Ohio Senate minority leader from 2014 to last year, says his experiences representing the Mahoning Valley give him a deep understanding of the economic ills and worries that led so many in that traditionally Democratic area of Ohio to support Donald Trump for president. He’s an appealing candidate with a promising political future ahead of him.

Democrats should vote for their futures by nominating Dennis John Kucinich for governor of Ohio. Early voting for the May 8 primary has begun.

 

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