MOMENTS AFTER Atty. Gen . Richard Cordray's speech to the Akron Press Club on Thursday, several people remarked that they fully understood why his rival, Mike DeWine, has turned down all invitations to debate him. It would have been a concession to human sacrifice for the former Republican senator. Not a pretty picture.
The contrast of Cordray's remarkably effective unassuming style, unfettered by a single note nor the usual cliches of partisanship, and DeWine's deadening talk at the same rostrum a week ago, was stunning. You couldn't attribute it to the contrast in the number of luncheon guests. (The incumbent drew nearly 150; DeWine, 31 (with no help from the local Republican Party) . While DeWine insisted that he could "do better" in the office, a political chestnut that is meaningless. Cordray articulated the role of his office with unembellished clarity (in the heat of a political campaign!) and dealt with each of DeWine's accusations without hyperbole nor a hint of common political arrogance.
For straight talk, modesty and logic, I haven't heard a virtuoso performance like this one in years. There are others around the state who have been just as impressed with his work. He's won a slew of endorsements from various organizations, law enforcement and firefighters groups, and several major newspapers (none for DeWine).
All of this leads me to say that it would be a terrible loss for Ohio if Cordray lost to the other fellow because of an economic environment over which he had no control. At 51, he has revealed an intelligence, honesty and grasp of the state's challenges that rarely emerges in the gang wars that we call political campaigns.
Did I say intelligence? How about this: Cordray once won 5 consecutive rounds on Jeopardy, the popular TV quiz show, back when you were limited to that number.
"I was term-limited," he told me with a smile. Let's hope that doesn't apply to his promising long-term political career. At the Press Club rostrum, it was no contest at all.