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ENDORSEMENT: Richard Cordray for governor

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    Richard Cordray



The time has come to end one-party rule in Columbus, and the best way voters can achieve that goal is by electing Democrat Richard Cordray as Ohio's next governor.

We believe Cordray would be a greater check on the legislative excesses of the General Assembly, which, thanks to gerrymandering, will almost surely remain in GOP hands, than his Republican opponent, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Republican legislative leaders are not keen on the prospect of divided government, and they announced Friday they wouldn't help Cordray pay for some of his plans, such as universal preschool.

As the scandal swirling around the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow and the investigation into former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger's cozy relationship with payday lenders demonstrate, Republican dominance hasn't worked out so well.

DeWine, as attorney general for the past eight years, owns some responsibility for those problems because they took place on his watch.

Corday has served in the Ohio General Assembly, as Franklin County treasurer, Ohio treasurer and attorney general, and he was named the first director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2012.

His willingness to fight for the little guy against entrenched big-money interests was apparent during his time as the nation's top watchdog on behalf of consumers. He left the CFPB job late last year to return home to run for governor.

Cordray also better represents Ohioans' views on many important issues such as protecting Lake Erie, education, abortion rights and reasonable gun-control restrictions, than DeWine does. We also found Cordray more open than DeWine to restoring at least some of the state cuts to local government funding.

Corday would use his veto power to stymie Republicans if they push through extreme measures. We are not convinced that DeWine, who occasionally used his office to champion conservative causes such as opposition to Obamacare, would do the same.

DeWine is qualified to be governor by virtue of his experience. Over the years, he has served as Greene County prosecutor, state senator, member of Congress, lieutenant governor and U.S. senator. He ousted Cordray from the Ohio attorney general's job in 2010.

There is no question that as attorney general DeWine has acted to protect consumers, get criminals off the streets and fight against opioids. That comes with the territory, and Cordray did those things too when he was attorney general.

We also don't dispute that DeWine worked hard to clear up a statewide backlog of rape kits, some of which had been sitting on the shelf for years.

Unfortunately, DeWine also has displayed an unnerving acceptance of government surveillance, and at times he has fought against the release of what are clearly records that should be available to journalists or the public.

Also in the race are Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton and Libertarian Travis Irvine, but neither has held elective office before. They are both well-intentioned, but the problems facing Ohio don't allow time for on-the-job training. Corday and DeWine, by comparison, would be ready on Day One.

In some ways, Cordray would be a better successor to term-limited Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, than DeWine would be.

Cordray has long embraced one of Kasich's signature achievements, Medicaid expansion. DeWine has been late to the party, so to speak, only coming out in full support of the program after he won a nasty Republican primary against Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. It is worth noting that he readily acknowledged in an interview with us that the expansion has been integral to helping people recover from opioid addiction

While Cordray would protect the program, which covers more than 660,000 Ohioans, DeWine has suggested the expansion is too expensive, and he favors a string of reforms including work or job-training requirements and wellness programs he argued would cut costs. We are concerned that those ideas could drive people who need and deserve Medicaid coverage off the rolls.

We are glad DeWine has evolved to the point where he would leave the expansion in place and reform it, but we have greater faith in Cordray to keep the program intact.

There is also the matter of state takeovers of local school districts. So far, only districts in Lorain and Youngstown have had their local control replaced with CEOs installed under legislation the General Assembly approved in 2015, but others are headed for the same fate.

Cordray is a firm opponent of this practice, and he told us he would work to end it, or, failing that, mitigate its worst aspects. DeWine said he was open to finding a "middle ground" on the issue.

Both Cordray and DeWine are qualified to be Ohio's next governor by virtue of their extensive experience in government.

Cordray, however, is a better choice to lead Ohio for the next four years.

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