With the drama brewing over this election season’s next big reveal‒‒who will be the nominees for vice president‒‒an increasing chorus of Democrats are trying to get their party’s presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to consider tapping Consumer Finance Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray.
Cordray is not formally on Clinton’s short list, but some Democrats are making a good case to put him on it.
As recently as Thursday, union officials in Cordray’s home state of Ohio, where he served as treasurer and attorney general before taking over the CFPB, made their case for Cordray, 57, to be Clinton’s running mate. According to local reports, union officials said Cordray would bring a kind of balance to the Democratic ticket that would be unavailable with anyone else.
Part of that balance would be to offset Clinton’s major hurdle, her image problem. Agree or not, Clinton suffers from the perception of being inauthentic to many in the party (hence the meteoric rise of Bernie Sanders as a foe in the primaries), not to mention swing voters.
Cordray is seen as almost unassailably sincere and honest, with a reputation for strong, public service that benefits the working class, a key ideological platform for the Democratic party. He won his first seat in House in 1990, defeating a six-term Republican incumbent on a platform of stopping crime, helping the environment, and protecting children and families.
His integrity was cemented among Democrats in the early 1990s when he stood up against gay discrimination initiatives in Cincinnati, and his honesty was proven when he appeared on a celebrity ‘Jeopardy’ program that pitted him against past champions in 2014. Cordray finished second, but turned down the prize money because he was a federal employee.
Not coincidentally, Cordray is the head of an agency that exists based on the suggestion of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has been on the formal Veep shortlist for months. Cordray’s success at constructing a functioning agency that has been a darling to Democrats (and, unsurprisingly, an embodiment of bloated government to Republicans) gives him a strong edge as a doer, especially with untested, large-scale enterprises.
It also positions Cordray as a champion for the little guy, considering the CFPB’s stated purpose is to defend the average American borrower against shady practices by the largest (and often heavily fined for missteps) institutions in the country.
Another selling point is Cordray’s ties to Ohio, where sentimental favorite Senator Sherrod Brown sits. While Democrats love Brown as an ideological fit for Clinton, many worry that the state’s Republican governor and former 2016 presidential candidate, John Kasich, would replace him with a Republican senator. Ohio, with its 18 electoral votes, is, of course, a major asset in the presidential race, having been the one state to side with the eventual winner in every election since 1964.