Sunday, Aug 19, 2018
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Ohio Democrats should not repeat the 2016 error of national Democrats

  • Ohio-Governor-s-Race-Cordray

    Former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray is emerging as the choice of the Democratic Party establishment.


  • Governor-2018-Ohio-Kucinich

    \In this June 28, 2012 file photo, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, leaves the Capitol in Washington after a vote.



Former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray is emerging as the choice of the Democratic Party establishment.


Another version of “what happened” to the Democrats nationally in 2016: They rigged the system and sabotaged themselves.

The party leaders, starting with the then-president, discouraged Joe Biden from running. They kept Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley from even getting a toehold in the race. They employed dirty tricks and unfair rules against Bernie Sanders, an aging socialist who wasn’t even a registered Democrat, but who almost upset the party leaders anyway. All to assure the nomination of Hillary Clinton.

It had to be Hillary.

And that’s what happened.

The party abandoned its neutral referee role and not only took a side, but cheated, to get Mrs. Clinton — the weakest and worst candidate — nominated.

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And the weakest and worst candidate lost a race she was “not supposed” to lose.

Mr. Biden or Mr. Sanders might have beaten Donald Trump.

The Ohio Democratic Party should take heed. In the contest that will essentially be between Richard Cordray and Dennis Kucinich for the Democratic nomination for governor, the party should stay out — it should not take a side.

The party apparatus is lining up behind Mr. Cordray, the former head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and there is intense pressure on other candidates and their supporters to fold and get in line. The party has no right to do that, but it is also repeating an arrogant folly: Heads are being knocked on behalf of someone who probably cannot win.

Mr. Cordray is not as supercilious and shrill as Mrs. Clinton. That is a high bar. But, like Mrs. Clinton, he is an inherently weak candidate. He is underwhelming on the stump. He has lost races for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and twice he has lost races for Ohio attorney general, though he also won that race once. He has been out of Ohio, distant and seemingly disinterested, with no presence here, for eight years. (There is little doubt that if he could have stayed in Washington he would have.) It is hard to see how he connects with average Ohioans in the era of Trump.

Mrs. Clinton is not the first example of the party preferring an insider who would probably lose to an outsider who could win. That perversity is almost a part of Democratic DNA. But the Clinton case is egregious because the process was so compromised and the result so predictable.

President Trump carried Ohio by more than 8 percentage points. A dull Clinton liberal is probably not the way to defeat Mike DeWine, who beat Mr. Cordray in their last matchup (for AG). Mr. Kucinich, on the other hand, is a fighter with genuine populist cred that can cut both left and right.

But whether he is the stronger candidate or not, the party should not try to push Mr. Kucinich out or discredit him simply because he is not a party kind of guy. Party leaders should let the people decide. The people, if Mr. Trump is any indication, rather like leaders who are not party toadies. For Democrats who are not utterly tone deaf and completely out of touch, 2018 could be a good year.

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