Richard Cordray, Mike DeWine assail each other in second Ohio governor debate

October 2, 2018

Richard Cordray, Mike DeWine assail each other in second Ohio governor debate

MARIETTA, Ohio—Like red and blue “rock ‘em, sock ’em” robot toys, Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine spent another gubernatorial debate Monday night taking shots at each other early and often.

With polls indicating a neck-and-neck race headed into the final weeks of the campaign, the two major-party nominees did their best to drag each other down, criticizing each other on issues from testing old rape kits to charter schools. 

At one point, Cordray suggested that DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, was to blame for the proliferation of toxic Lake Erie algal blooms in recent years. “It’s blossomed on his watch, and he’s not been effective at containing it,” Cordray said.

Cordray, the former head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told reporters afterward that DeWine should have done more to enforce environmental laws as well as pushed harder for a Lake Erie impairment designation – which would allow federal regulators to take steps to reduce the agricultural phosphorus runoff that the algae feed on.

Cordray said, if elected, he would favor imposing mandatory phosphorus runoff rules on farmers – something that Gov. John Kasich has called for but farmers and rural lawmakers have successfully blocked so far in the legislature.

Asked about Cordray’s algal bloom claim, DeWine answered tongue-in-cheek, “I’ve been blamed for everything else – I guess I might as well be blamed for the algae blooms.”

About the only issues the two found agreement on was a pledge to veto any “right-to-work” anti-union bill that might pass the GOP-dominated legislature, as well as – ironically – a need for more civility in politics.

DeWine and Cordray (a former state attorney general himself) also traded accusations that neither did enough to address a backlog of untested rape kits. Both also repeatedly tried to connect the other to the scandal-ridden Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow charter school.

Amid the verbal bomb-throwing, the two policy wonks did offer insights as to what they would do as governor.

On guns, Cordray said while ­“we need to respect the Second Amendment,” Ohio should pass a ban on bump stocks (which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire like fully automatic weapons) and high-capacity magazines. DeWine, meanwhile, pledged that his first state budget proposal as governor would focus on the “poorest children and poorest schools” in the state.

Cordray and DeWine have one final debate planned in Cleveland on Oct. 8, and there’s no sign the two candidates plan to be any less combative.

Asked about his attacks on DeWine, Cordray told reporters, “I don’t think it’s uncivil to contrast our records as long as it’s truthful. If we can’t contrast our records, then what do voters have on information to go on? ...People should expect to have some jostling going on.”

DeWine, for his part, said it was “remarkable” that Cordray “can’t get through his opening statement without throwing punches.”

As for his own attacks on Cordray? “Those were reaction punches,” DeWine said. “Look, sure, I’m not going to sit there and get hit.”

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