1. Richard Cordray got back $12 billion for 30 million Americans who had been cheated or mistreated by large financial institutions.
Recruited by Warren herself to the CFPB after a stint as Ohio’s attorney general, Cordray has turned the agency’s mission of protecting consumers from Wall Street predations into a campaign message. “My job at the CFPB, as President Obama told me when he interviewed me, was to stand on the side of people in the financial marketplace and see that they were treated fairly,” Cordray told a group of Cincinnati firefighters.
2. In Washington, Rich continued on a national level what he accomplished in Ohio.
Although he first had to spend a year building and staffing the bureau, Cordray picked up where he’d left off in Ohio, going after mortgage, student loan, and financial companies as soon as its enforcement authority kicked in in July 2011.
3. Richard Cordray won the Democratic primary – by forty points.
Cordray, who stepped down as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last December, was making a last-minute pitch to Ohio Democrats to choose him as their nominee for governor. Ostensibly, he was campaigning to defeat liberal gadfly Dennis Kucinich in the next day’s party primary (which he did, handily).
4. He is also a son of the Buckeye State.
Although Cordray has no more dispositional kinship with the fiery Sanders than he does with Trump, his background and upbringing still serve as the basis for a kind of buttoned-down populist appeal. He was born in Grove City, Ohio, to parents who both worked with children with developmental disabilities.
5. Rich’s parents taught him the value of public service and showed that government could be a force for good.
Cordray’s father was also blind, but the family got little in the way of public recognition, which only amplified their nobility in their son’s mind and shaped his political views. “You need to be on the couch to think deeply about your inner psyche,” Cordray told me, with an awkward chuckle. “But over the years, I think more and more I’ve come to recognize that my parents, not in a didactic or explicit way, but in a very powerful way by their example, gave me a sense that government could be a force for good.”
6. Richard Cordray protected Ohio families in the midst of the financial crisis.
Cordray took office in the teeth of the financial crisis. He quickly became part of a cadre of aggressively litigious Democratic state attorneys general that included Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, Roy Cooper in North Carolina, and Lisa Madigan in Illinois. The group successfully targeted financial corporations, mortgage-loan servicers, and credit card companies for consumer fraud and other abuses tied to the crisis. The $2 billion that Cordray boasts about reclaiming for Ohioans came from several actions against marquee Wall Street firms, including American International Group ($725 million), Merrill Lynch ($475 million), and Marsh & McLennan ($400 million)
7. Rich has the temperament to govern and get things done in Columbus.
His Robin Hood record notwithstanding, Cordray, 59, is about the furthest thing from the tub-thumping populists of yore. Tall and sandy-haired, he has a hangdog visage and the soft-spoken demeanor of the late PBS kids’ show host Mr. Rogers.
“His personality is not like Elizabeth’s or Bernie’s, but his economic policy chops sure are,” says Sandy Theis, former executive director of the liberal nonprofit ProgressOhio. “If you’re looking for a candidate who’ll give you clickbait and headlines, that’s not Rich,” echoes Matt Alter, president of the Cincinnati Firefighters Union, IAFF Local 48. “But he’ll run the state and get things done.”
8. Rich has an impeccable academic record.
Cordray was a scholarship student at Michigan State, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago Law School, then won a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship.
9. Rich is focused less on political attacks and grabbing headlines, and more on leading Ohio forward — in a serious way.
Cordray resists red-meat attacks. Absent from his pitch, even to friendly Democratic audiences, was any mention of Trump or the menagerie of supporting characters, from Robert Mueller to Stormy Daniels, who populate the daily American political drama on cable TV. “I don’t want the voters to get distracted,” Cordray told me at his Columbus headquarters. “There’s a certain prurient entertainment value in some of that stuff. But I think government is serious business and important.”
10. Rich is delivering a clear populist message in every corner of the state.
The story Cordray’s telling is noteworthy, because he doesn’t sound inhibited in the way Democrats in conservative areas often do. He isn’t masquerading as a moderate “Republican lite,” yet his personality isn’t going to eclipse everything else, as Trump’s did. He’ll rise or fall on the strength of the ideas he’s putting forward as unabashedly left of center.
11. Unlike the president, Richard Cordray has a record of keeping his promises to Ohio families.
While their personal styles couldn’t be more different, candidates Trump and Cordray strike many of the same notes, both arguing that workers have been fleeced by Wall Street banks and taken advantage of by self-dealing politicians.
The difference between Cordray and Trump, Warren says, is that “Cordray has a story of winning, and not just making promises.”