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Published: Wednesday, 2/17/2010

Cordray begins re-election effort


COLUMBUS — In a repeat of the campaign two years ago, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is running against Wall Street while presumptive Republican opponent Mike DeWine is attempting to link him to Marc Dann.

Mr. Cordray yesterday officially announced his Democratic re-election effort to remain Ohio's top law enforcement official. He said Mr. DeWine, a former U.S. senator defeated in 2006, was part of the “broken status quo” that led to the failures on Wall Street that are now the subject of eight lawsuits his office has filed.

“We've been really aggressive about that,” Mr. Cordray said. “[Wall Street has] really hurt our communities. They've hurt our retirement systems, our investors, and taxpayers of this state. We're trying to call them to account.”

Mr. Cordray has sued insurance giant AIG, mortgage lenders, major credit-rating agencies, and other Wall Street institutions.

“To date we've already recovered more than $2 billion from Wall Street for the workers, retirees, and investors who were harmed,” he said.

He said Mr. DeWine was in Washington while controls on such Wall Street institutions were dismantled, ultimately allowing the abuses that led to the collapse of some financial institutions and a taxpayer bailout of others.

While insisting he wasn't speaking for any other campaign, Mr. Cordray's anti-Wall Street theme is consistent with that of fellow Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland, whose GOP opponent, John Kasich, is a former manager of failed financial giant Lehman Brothers.

Mr. DeWine, however, painted such lawsuits as an extension of Mr. Dann's administration. Mr. Dann was swept into office in the same Democratic tide that swept Mr. DeWine out, but he was pressured into resigning just 16 months later after a sexual harassment and cronyism scandal in his office.

“Whether it's raising campaign money from people who do business with the state or suing small businesses in an attempt to gain publicity, Richard Cordray has far too much in common with Marc Dann,” Mr. DeWine said.

“I will campaign aggressively for this position and tell Ohioans how I will fight for their interests as their next attorney general,” Mr. DeWine said.

While Mr. Cordray took aim at him, it is still unclear whether Mr. DeWine will have clear sailing to the Republican nomination.

The former senator and lieutenant governor has not proven popular among the Tea Party movement of his party, considering him too moderate on some issues. Some recently protested the Ohio Republican Party's official endorsement of Mr. DeWine and the party's role in persuading their preferred candidate, Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost, to run for state auditor instead.

The deadline for candidates to file petitions is Thursday.

A former Ohio treasurer and state representative, Mr. Cordray garnered 57 percent of the vote in the 2008 special election for attorney general against Mike Crites, a Republican former U.S. attorney.

As of the end of 2009, Mr. Cordray was sitting on a campaign chest of $2.6 million, more than double the $1 million Mr. DeWine had. Half of Mr. DeWine's cache was his own money.

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

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