COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Democratic governor candidate Connie Pillich hit the campaign trail Tuesday with former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell at her side, insisting her candidacy can prevail this spring in a crowded primary with some bigger names.

One of those names is Richard Cordray, the former federal consumer watchdog, state attorney general and treasurer.

In Cincinnati on Tuesday, Cordray picked up support from another southwest Ohio mayor, second-term Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, in his bid for the state’s top political post.

Cordray has been viewed by many as the party’s strongest contender to beat Republican Mike DeWine in November to succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich, who’s term-limited. DeWine faces Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in the GOP primary, but is one of the state’s longest serving and best known politicians.

Other Democrats in the May 8 primary are former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

Two former Democratic rivals have gotten behind Cordray’s bid — and Cranley’s backing showed their supporters are getting behind him, too.

Cranley previously backed Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley’s campaign. Whaley dropped out of the governor’s race this month and endorsed Cordray. Another former rival, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, dropped her bid and signed on as Cordray’s running mate.

Cranley said local governments have been hurt by Republican control of Ohio’s Statehouse and Cordray will work with cities.

Pillich said Ohio voters she’s spoken to reject “the establishment assumptions that people should just be coronated.”

Stumping at Tommy’s Diner in west Columbus with Rendell and running mate Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer, Pillich said, “If we want to win in Ohio in 2018, Democrats have to understand we cannot beat Mike DeWine with our own version of Mike DeWine. We have to have something fresh.”

Rendell, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, touted Pillich’s executive experience, including as a captain in the Air Force, as an important qualification for being governor.

“For executive offices, people don’t just vote on the issues. They vote for leadership qualities, and Connie’s a leader,” he said.

Rendell predicted two main factors will impact the Democratic vote this year: sentiment against Republican President Donald Trump and a high turnout among women mobilized after Democrart Hillary Clinton’s defeat and driven forward by sexual harassment scandals.

He said, as the only female Democrat in the race, Pillich is well-positioned to win.


Sewell contributed from Cincinnati.