Sam Allard / Scene
Dennis Kucinich listens to an audience question during a City Club forum (2/27/2018).
In a shockingly unexpected endorsement Sunday, the PD/Cleveland.com editorial board threw their weight behind
former Cleveland mayor and U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
“The choice should come down to passion, vision and an ability to grasp the bully pulpit to inspire Ohioans about the need for change,” the editorial read. “Of the major Democratic candidates, Kucinich is the one most likely to challenge statehouse inertia.”
The decision for most Democratic voters on May 8 will be between Kucinich and Richard Cordray, the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and long the presumed front-runner in the race. But the board waved Cordray away, citing a lack of evident passion and vision. Most surprisingly of all, they gave Cordray only a few more lines than Youngstown-area state senator Joe Schiavoni in their write-up, and fewer than former justice Bill O’Neill, whose candidacy soured before it officially began and ought to be disregarded.
Both Cordray and Kucinich have much to recommend them. But both also have critical flaws. The PD editorial mentioned Kucinich’s past defenses of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, for example, and said that Kucinich must “never again make nice” with him. (Kucinich has been active on social media for the past several days, condemning the recent military strike in Syria.) But the endorsement did not mention Kucinich's volatile mayoralty in the late '70s. Editorial board director Elizabeth Sullivan did suggest in the endorsement interview that while Kucinich has always been a gifted campaigner, implementing his ideas has proven to be a challenge in the past.
On the Cordray front, the editorial alluded to his lack of charisma, which has been an oft-noted vulnerability on the campaign trail, though Cordray has been more animated in recent weeks. But it neglected to mention his support for gun rights, support that, despite recent modulations and calls for common sense regulation, may be a hangup for voters galvanized by national protests in the wake of the Parkland shooting.
Ultimately, the editorial board argued that a Democrat occupying the governor’s seat with Republicans controlling the general assembly (both house and senate) will have an arduous battle ahead of him. Kucinich, the board decided, is more suited to serve as a “megaphone spurring citizens to demand legislative action.”
On the Republican side, the editorial board endorsed Mike DeWine, the epitome of the statehouse inertia they’ve endorsed Kucinich to challenge.