MOUNT VERNON — It wasn’t on the agenda, but some of the loudest applause of the night at the annual Knox County Democratic Dinner came when Joe Rugola, executive director of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees/American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (OPASE/AFSCME) and international vice president of AFSCME, and Mike Lang, an executive board member of OAPSE, presented Richard Cordray a check for $100,000 for his campaign for governor of Ohio.
Cordray, who is in a tight race against Mike DeWine for governor, was the keynote speaker for the Democratic dinner, held Friday night at the Ohio Eastern Star’s Glenn A. Gallagher Centre. The dinner attracted more than 140 party faithful, one of the largest crowds since at least the 1990s, party regulars said.
Cordray’s speech, which reviewed his career as Ohio treasurer and attorney general and as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, drew repeated applause for his criticism of Republicans for policies, enacted at the behest of Wall Street, that “blew up the economy,” and at the state level resulted in the eCot scandal, which DeWine failed to do anything about for years and cost Ohio $186 million.
Cordray also touted the need to restore respect for public service, protecting Ohioans’ health care (noting that DeWine was one of the first Republicans to file a suit to try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act), restoring fair legislative districts, and ending the culture of corruption in the Republican-controlled statehouse.
He pointed to his own record of returning $12 billion to 30 million Americans while at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The Democrats also heard from Judge Michael Donnelly and Judge Melody Stewart, candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court; Louise Valentine, candidate for the 19th State Senate District; and Kathleen Tate of Apple Valley, the party’s candidate for the 68th Ohio House District.
Donnelly, who has been a Common Pleas judge in Cuyahoga County for 14 years, emphasized he need for court reform and openness in court processes. He described how an effort he worked on to bring more openness and truth in sentencing to the process of plea bargaining was rejected by the Republican-dominated court without an explanation.
Stewart said she has spent 30 years practicing law and teaching about the law, said we need to break the GOP stranglehold on the Supreme Court and “restore balance to the room.”
She note that although all four candidate for the court this year received “highly qualified” ratings from the Ohio Bar Association, she received the highest score of the four. She has been an appeals court judge since 2006.
Tate delivered a feisty speech, declaring that she decided to run because she was “mad as hell at the way women and minorities are being treated,” including not receiving equal pay for equal work” and “having our health care dictated to us.”
She said she has a long history of working for advocacy groups while she lived in California, and went to college at 65 to earn a business management degree.
One of the largest ovations came for Ohio Senate candidate Valentine when she was introduced as being the “most likely Democratic candidate to turn a red district blue.”
She said she was inspired to enter politics after the 2016 election and eventually left her job at L Brands to seek the Senate seat.
“I was appalled to find out that Kris Jordan was our senator,” she said, and thought, “we need better at the Statehouse.”
She said the Republicans have been working to sell out our children’s futures — what else are they willing to sell out?
She said her opponent has been unable to organize a campaign, so the Koch brothers and their “Americans for Progress” PAC have decided to dump money in the campaign to try to keep her from becoming the first Democrat to ever represent the district because polls are showing her leading the race by three points.