By Tim Zelina
Ohio’s gubernatorial race is in full swing as we approach the May primaries, with a crowded Democratic field on one side and a practically settled Republican race on the other. Ohio — once a purple state that has reliably backed almost every winning candidate since 1896 — has turned deep red with the near ten-point victory of President Donald Trump over then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Losing Ohio has been a big loss to Democrats, but no year seems better to reverse these misfortunes than 2018. In order for Democrats to win big in Ohio, they need a winning candidate leading the gubernatorial race, and that candidate is Dennis Kucinich.
Kucinich offers something the rest of the Democratic field simply does not — change for the better. In light of Trump’s failed promises, the people of Ohio are even thirstier for a new path forward than before. A return to the status quo is equally as unappetizing as a continuation of Trump’s toxic agenda.
Kucinich is the only one who could bring this to the table. The candidates besides Richard Cordray and Kucinich have little chance of winning the primary, and Cordray would be a disaster for Democrats. The former Consumer Financial Protections Bureau head is simply another milquetoast, third-way Democrat with no real plan for helping Ohioans.
Cordray’s website is entirely absent of any issues. It seems rather than convincing the people of Ohio to vote for him, he’s hoping his name recognition and the support from the party establishment will propel him into the general election, where he can tailor his views to what the broader electorate might respond to best.
Ohioans are sick of this sort of cynical political pragmatism. We saw this to be most evident when Clinton was overwhelmingly rejected by the state of Ohio in the presidential election. One would be insane to think that Cordray, with his deep ties to Obama and national Democrats, would perform well in a state that has begun to reject the national Democratic Party. If Democrats put Cordray on the ticket, they might as well just hand the seat to Republican candidate Mike DeWine and campaign elsewhere.
For further proof of Cordray’s focus on courting support from elitist institutions, note that he has barely bothered campaigning for the votes of Ohioans, but he has spent a lot of time using his connections at the CFPB to court millions in donations from donors who benefitted from his regulations during his time there.
Kucinich has real plans and real goals. The most impressive plan he has to offer is his campaign promise to end the abhorrent private prison system that plagues this state. Private prisons are a cancer on our justice system that make profit off the crimes of others, and they are both morally and economically unjustifiable. Kucinich is the only candidate who has promised what few Democrats dare — to end these unjust, unfair institutions that systemically target the black community.
Kucinich is also leading the charge on combating the mass shootings that have unfortunately become common in recent years. His running mate, Akron Councilwoman Tara Samples, has led a resolution to ban assault weapons in the hopes that Akron passing it will pressure the state government to join in. Compare this to Richard Cordray, who has an A rating from the NRA and whose only response to the Parkland shooting was that “people … are thinking we need to do more.”
Some are wary of Kunicich due to his position as a Fox News contributor and for some comments he made regarding the controversy surrounding whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. It’s best that Democrats give Kucinich a pass here; Russia has become a distraction that could cost Democrats a midterm election sweep, and Kucinich knows it.
By focusing on Russia and not on real issues, Democrats are not going to see the sort of turnout they need to kick Trump’s agenda out of Ohio. Democrats need to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation, but otherwise, Democratic candidates should focus on issues that affect their constituents. This is how Democrats can win back the governor’s seat in Ohio and across the country.