Sunday, May 27, 2018
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3 vie for top law enforcement post

COLUMBUS The shadow of Marc Dann hangs over the race for Ohio next attorney general, even though he s been out of office nearly six months and isn t on Tuesday s ballot.

Democrats are offering state Treasurer Richard Cordray, who s banking that he and his party got out early enough calling for the former attorney general s resignation to put enough distance between them and Mr. Dann s brief but scandal-plagued administration.

Republicans have countered with Mike Crites, a former federal prosecutor who has characterized Mr. Cordray as a career politician who is as unqualified to be attorney general as Mr. Dann was.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Robert Owens, a Delaware attorney, is hoping voters are disgruntled enough with corruption associated with both major parties in recent years to consider going an entirely different direction.

Mr. Cordray, 49, of Grove City, is a former state representative, state solicitor, and Franklin County treasurer who rode the Democratic wave into statewide office with Gov. Ted Strickland and Mr. Dann in 2006.

He has argued that this, along with changes he s made in the treasurer s office and his experience arguing six times before the U.S. Supreme Court, demonstrate a well-rounded background to serve as the state s top law enforcement officer.

I was outraged, dismayed, and concerned about what [Mr. Dann] meant for the office, Mr. Cordray said of the sexual harassment and cronyism scandals.

It crystallized for me when the report was issued, he said. It was just an internal investigation, but there were very serious problems there. The press conference [which contained Mr. Dann s confession of his own extramarital affair with an employee] seemed to reinforce some of those problems.

Mr. Crites, 60, formerly of Lima and now living in the Columbus surburb of Powell, was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio by President Ronald Reagan and stayed until President Bill Clinton came to office in 1993. He s perhaps best known for prosecuting disgraced baseball great Pete Rose on tax evasion charges.

He has criticized Mr. Cordray s lack of prosecutorial experience.

As a prosecutor in the courtroom, I tried a lot of cases and held evidentiary hearings, Mr. Crites said.

On the consumer-protection side of the office, there would be a lot of prosecution on behalf of the state in a civil context. As a U.S. attorney, I essentially administered a miniature attorney general s office.

Mr. Owens, 35, a former member of the Delaware City Charter Commission, said he considers himself a constitutionalist at heart. He offers himself as an alternative to politics-as-usual in Columbus.

We ve been the only campaign that has any kind of urban agenda, he said. We talk about people being able to access support services from the attorney general s office to empower themselves not to be victims of violent crime. We will have an emphasis on solving violent crimes.

As of the end of September, Mr. Cordray s campaign had $2.5 million in the bank. Neither Mr. Crites nor Mr. Owens have gained much traction when it came to fund-raising.

Contact Jim Provance at:jprovance@theblade.comor 614-221-0496.

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