Former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray formally announced Tuesday his candidacy for the 2018 Ohio gubernatorial race.
“I’m announcing today that I’m running to be the next governor of the state of Ohio,” Cordray told a crowd gathered at a diner in his hometown of Grove City, Ohio. “I look forward to the challenge.”
I’m here at my favorite hometown place – Lilly’s Kitchen Table in Grove City – to announce my candidacy for governor of Ohio. My focus is on the kitchen table issues that people and families face across the state. Bummed if they don’t let me eat anything, though! #KitchenTable pic.twitter.com/nx7wcN86J2
— Rich Cordray (@RichCordray) December 5, 2017
Cordray announced he would retire from the CFPB in mid November, telling staff that his tenure as the agency’s first director was one of the greatest joys of his life.
Some have speculated that Cordray was trying to get President Donald Trump to fire him as a way to bolster his image with progressive voters in Ohio. Cordray denounced these claims Monday, saying that former President Barack Obama wrote him a letter urging him stay at the CFPB and keep fighting for their agenda.
“I decided I needed to stay and do that,” Cordray said in response to questions about why he decided to stay at the agency.
“I will deliver results, and I’ll do it the Ohio way, the way I’ve always done things,” Cordray said. “Not by stirring conflict, sowing division or pitting people against one other. We’re seeing way too much of that from Washington D.C.”
Sources within Ohio politics told The Daily Caller News Foundation that, even with a handful of Democratic challengers, no Democrat in the state has the name recognition or the clout to take on Cordray.
Cordray served as the state’s attorney general, treasurer and other positions withing Ohio state politics. His name is a familiar one for both Democratic and Republican voters throughout the state of Ohio, a point made all the more visible Monday when a packed diner chanted “Cordray!” as the candidate entered.
Former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell and a former high-level Ohio elected official told TheDCNF in October to look for Cordray to run for Ohio governor as a Democrat once he announced his retirement.
“Cordray’s connections have never been disconnected. I know that he is getting inquiries and pressure from Democrats in Ohio. I have no doubt he’ll be getting into Ohio politics,” Blackwell told TheDCNF. “There’s heavy lobbying for him to run for governor.”
Democratic political operatives from Cordray’s time in Ohio politics said in summer 2017 to watch for Cordray to enter the race, a former high-level Ohio state elected official told TheDCNF. The source added at the time that many in the Ohio political class thought that Cordray would announce his candidacy at a Labor Day picnic in Cincinnati and were surprised to see he did not.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is barred by term limits to run for the state’s highest office again in 2018, which leaves the race open for Cordray and other candidates.
The former CFPB director was meeting with top Democratic pollster, Celinda Lake, who runs Lake Research Partners in Washington. Cordray met with Lake on a number of occasions while at the CFPB, most recently Aug. 24, 2017.
Lake and her firm are no strangers to Ohio politics, listing Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio on the firm’s website as a former client. Lake Research Partners also has a 2017 contract out with the Ohio Democratic Party for “research” worth $18,849.
Lake told TheDCNF in October that the she and members of her firm were “briefing CFPB staff including the director on the 2017 poll commissioned by Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible learning on financial regulations,” and that her firm has never done “any work for the CFPB.”
Cordray’s announcement will surely fire up Republicans–who believe the CFPB to be an arm of the progressive agenda–and the president.
Trump and Cordray recently got into a tussle over who would replace Cordray as head of the CFPB.
Cordray chose his former chief of staff, Leandra English, as his choice to replace him at the agency, while President Donald Trump picked a member of his administration, Mick Mulvaney, to head the agency. The attempted move to stymie the president’s control over the Obama-era agency led to a lawsuit on the part of English, who challenged the president’s authority to appoint an interim director of the CFPB.
U.S. District Judge for the District Court of District of Columbia Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee, sided with the Trump administration, ruling that he would not issue a temporary restraining order stopping the president from appointing a new director.
Ohio Republicans have been on a months-long campaign to discredit Cordray and were already out with a fresh statement some 20 minutes before Cordray announced.
“Ohioans need only look at Crooked Richard Cordray’s final act as Director of the CFPB to know they can’t trust him. Before leaving the swamp, Crooked Cordray showed his disdain for the rule of law by attempting to usurp powers of the President, and name his own successor to an executive agency,” Ohio Republican Party Executive Director Rob Secaur said in a statement to TheDCNF.
“Now, after quitting his bureaucratic dream job and losing a battle with President Trump, Cordray thinks he is fit to be Governor.”
After leaving the announcement press conference, Cordray tweeted that he feels like “a dog that’s shaken off its muzzle.”
— Rich Cordray (@RichCordray) December 5, 2017
His campaign launched its website shortly after Monday’s press conference and released a video.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new information.
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