Richard Cordray ended months of speculation about his political plans Tuesday by launching his campaign for Ohio governor.

The 2018 gubernatorial race will be closely watched by both financial industry executives and consumer advocates to see whether Cordray’s tenure as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau becomes an asset or a liability on the campaign trail.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray
“I’ve taken on Wall Street and won, putting money back in the pockets of hard-working Americans,” former CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in his announcement. Bloomberg News

In a fundraising email Tuesday, the former Ohio attorney general portrayed his candidacy as a homecoming.

“My parents raised my brothers and me in Grove City, right in the middle of the middle class, and taught us to work hard, be humble and live with integrity,” Cordray stated. “They were social workers who showed us by their own example that there is no higher calling than dedicating yourself to serving others.”

Cordray also indicated that he plans to wear his unpopularity in the banking industry — or at least at big banks — as a badge of honor.

“I’ve taken on Wall Street and won, putting money back in the pockets of hard-working Americans,” he wrote. “We need a governor who will face our most serious challenges and address them effectively — all in the service of helping the people of Ohio, not the special interests.”

Cordray is a former Ohio treasurer and attorney general who served as the CFPB’s first director. In the months before his Nov. 24 resignation, rumors swirled in Washington about his potential run for governor.

Cordray’s opponents in the Democratic primary include former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci are among the declared GOP candidates.

Republican Gov. John Kasich is nearing the end of his second term and cannot run for re-election.

Kevin Wack

Kevin Wack

Kevin Wack is a California-based reporter for American Banker who covers the U.S. consumer finance industry.