We’re About to Find Out How Well Elizabeth Warren’s Politics Play in Ohio

The first director of her consumer protection agency is running for governor.

Alex Edelman/CNP via ZUMA Wire

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Richard Cordray didn’t wait long. On Tuesday, less than two weeks after his departure from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau triggered a mini-constitutional crisis of the variety the Trump administration has made look routine, Cordray announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for governor of Ohio.

Cordray, who previously served as the state’s treasurer and attorney general, has been floated as a prospective candidate for years, but he was inhibited by the precariousness of the agency he’d help get off the ground. The CFPB was formed after the recession to protect consumers from bad actors in the financial sector. If Cordray left, Republicans would let the office wither without a director (like they’d done to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for years), or replace him with someone who opposes the bureau’s very mission (which is ultimately what happened). But Republican-dominated Washington forced his hand, and now Cordray is hunting for a new job—with an assist from some familiar faces:

No, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) hasn’t endorsed Cordray, at least not yet. But Cordray’s candidacy, and his opening pitch, is significant in that it is a test-run for the political appeal of Warrenism. Cordray was the man President Barack Obama nominated to run the CFPB after it became clear that Warren, the agency’s architect, would never be confirmed. (For a time it appeared Cordray would never be confirmed either—it took about a year.)  At The Nation recently, David Dayen rattled off a few of his accomplishments:

Over the years, Cordray’s CFPB sanctioned credit-card firms for selling phony add-on products, mortgage companies for deceiving borrowers, and Wells Fargo for issuing fake accounts. It has sued companies that defraud student-loan borrowers and sneaky debt-relief companies that pose as government agents.

Cordray and Ohio Democrats are banking on a simple premise—that consumer protection is popular. People would prefer not to be scammed by their credit card companies. They don’t like to lose their homes because a bank falsified mortgage documents. They think student loans are a foretaste of hell.

Focusing on these kinds of issues has made Warren into a national figure and a leader of a wayward Democratic Party that is, tentatively but increasingly, taking aim at unchecked corporate power and consolidation. Depending on how things work out over the next few years, it could even take her further. In 2018, we’ll find out just how well that plays in Ohio.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest