Democrats in Ohio have a long list of candidates to consider for the May 8 primary election.
Richard Cordray, the former Ohio treasurer and attorney general before being appointed by President Obama to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, led in most polls. He faces opposition from former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, current state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, former Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, former exotic making his second run for governor Larry Ealy and Alliance-based newcomer Paul Ray.
The four mainstream candidates spoke to the Columbus Dispatch, while other responses were found on the candidates’ websites. Ray doesn’t have a website, although he does have a YouTube video boasting of his accessibility.
Perhaps Cordray’s biggest vulnerability has to do with guns. The push for more restrictions has gained new energy after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Some of the high school students who survived the massacre have been calling out the National Rifle Association, Congress and state legislatures for stalling what they see as common-sense gun restrictions.
Though much of the Democratic base is itching to take on the gun lobby, Cordray is having to live with his past courtship of it. One of his opponents, former Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich, has been pushing a video of Cordray speaking to a Second Amendment rally on the Statehouse steps while he was still attorney general in 2010.
Kucinich has criticized Cordray’s defense as attorney general of a state law that overturned local gun restrictions in Cleveland, but Cordray said that was his job.
“If an attorney general isn’t defending a state statute, they’re essentially nullifying the statute, so there’s really no alternative,” Kucinich said.
But in 2010, Cordray went a step further, signing onto a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonald v. Chicago. With it, Cordray supported extending to the states a personal right to bear arms first enunciated by the court in 2008. Eventually, his move was backed by 38 other attorneys general, including 21 Democrats, his campaign says.
“I do believe there’s a Second Amendment right in the Constitution and we have a right to bear arms in the Ohio Constitution as well,” he said. “It has some different wording. Where I grew up in rural Ohio, people own guns. They use them for hunting and self-defense and not much more. I do think that is a constitutional right.”
Schiavoni also spoke in favor of the Second Amendment but called for funding increased safety measures in schools while strengthening background checks. That includes examining potential gun show, pawn shop and inheritance “loopholes in the law.” He also wants to increase regulations on “AR-15 style firearms.”
Opioids and heroin
Schiavoni urged rebuilding mental health and addiction services in Ohio, including increases in funding and increased capacity. He also proposed expanding Medicaid coverage and reimbursement rates.
“It’s time to stop simply talking about the problem and start doing something about it,” he said on his website.
O’Neill wants marijuana to be legal in Ohio and use the taxes paid on it to help address the opioid crisis. He estimates it could raise $600 million a year in revenue.
“It is time to take the $600-million new revenue from marijuana and prison reform and build a world-class network of regional mental health hospitals,” O’Neill wrote on his website. “We need long term care to address the 4,000 deaths a year from opioid overdoses; and we have the imperative to provide accessible mental health care for the most vulnerable members of our society. We need more hospitals and less prisons. It really is that simple.”
Cordray wants to address the opioid crisis by working on what he sees as a related problem: local government funds.
“Local first responders must have the resources and tools they need for prevention, education and law enforcement efforts stemming from this crisis,” Cordray said on his website. “Cutting local government funding for first responders has been shortsighted and detrimental. Naloxone continues to be seen by experts as a constructive approach to preventing overdose deaths. Treatment bed availability continues to be a central challenge.”
Kucinich doesn’t address opioids and heroin directly on his website, although he does call drug addicted a “health crisis, rather than simply a criminal justice matter.”
Ealy called for marijuana decriminalization and removing drugs from all communities.
Kucinich calls for an all-out expansion on healthcare.
“In this campaign I will convene all parties to bring forward a comprehensive plan, to provide every Ohioan with access to affordable, low-cost, basic medical, mental health, dental, and prescription drug care, with a new emphasis on regenerative health care, disease prevention, diet and complementary therapies,” he wrote on his website.
Schiavoni calls for protecting the Medicaid expansion under Gov. John Kasich. He also wants Ohio to fight attempted repeals of the Affordable Care Act and wants to work with communities to reduce the infant mortality rates.
Cordray wants to protect the Medicaid expansion while also working with local officials.
O’Neill doesn’t directly address Medicaid expansion on his website.
O’Neill thinks Ohio missed an opportunity to build a 200 mph high speed electric train system from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati 30 years ago. He wants to reopen that discussion.
“Let’s put Ohioans back to work, and build a fast, reliable rail network that will strengthen our transportation system, protect our environment, and make Ohio more attractive to big business,” O’Neill said on his website.
Kucinich also speaks in favor of high speed rail while also calling for assistance to the state’s public transportation providers.
Schiavoni expressed a concern about the state’s reliable internet, particularly in rural areas. He bases his program on a program based in Minnesota. He also called for officials to “repair, rebuild and expand our infrastructure now,” using a one-one-time “meaningful investment.” He also wanted to repair and rebuild Ohio’s underground water systems.
Ealy wants to create and improve roads throughout the state.
Cordray called on infrastructure to help support job creators.
Cordray wants the state to invest in preschool educational and developmental programming. He proposed creating a statewide pre-kindergarten “hub” to help local educators connect the dots. He also wants to guarantee adequate funding through combined public/private efforts.
Kucinich wants to address the funding for Ohio’s elementary and secondary education. He plans to announce a statewide initiative on that. He also calls for addressing the default rate on college student loans. He also called for pushing the arts in Ohio’s communities and schools.
O’Neill wants to move the state away from “the illegal property tax based funding system and get serious about implementing a thorough and efficient method” of bringing education to children. He wants to create an educational czar on the governor’s cabinet. He also called for reducing the cost of four-year college by 10 percent a year.
Ealy proposed making African American studies a requirement in high school and middle school.