In a report Wednesday from Reuters, the day Richard Cordray has been waiting for is expected to arrive next week, when U.S. Senate Democratic leaders say they plan to hold a vote on President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB].
Cordray up to bat next week
Richard Cordray, whose last public service position in Ohio was attorney general until defeated by Mike Dewine in the 2010 elections that swept Republicans into statewide constitutional offices formerly occupied by Democrats who won them in 2006, was handpicked for the CFPB job by Elizabeth Warren, who defeated Republican Scott Brown last fall.
It was Warren’s idea to create the CFPB, which found a home in the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill Congress passed along party lines in 2010.
The mission of the CFPB is to oversee mortgages, credit cards and other products to keep American consumers from falling prey to financial scams.
Republicans have long argued that the CFPB, which can’t function without a director, doesn’t have enough oversight, even as they seek to defund it or hamstring it by keeping it leaderless, which will happen if Cordray isn’t confirmed.
That prospect is more than possible, after a Senate Democratic aide told Reuters that Cordray is not expected to win enough votes to confirm him.
Will Ohio eyes be smiling, frowning?
Either way, eyes will be wide open in Ohio, Cordray’s home state, where he his name has been high atop a list of potential challengers to Republican Gov. John R. Kasich, who is running for a second and final term next year.
Ed FitzGerald, a former FBI special agent in Chicago who served as Mayor of Lakewood, west of Cleveland, before becoming the first elected Cuyahoga County Executive, declared his candidacy to take on Gov. Kasich. FitzGerald, who has plenty of issues to run on but who needs to stay competitive in campaign fundraising with Gov. Kasich, who is expected to have ample cash working on his behalf from third-party groups including the Republican Governor’s Association.
FitzGerald spent days touring the state to announce his run for governor in 2014.
Republicans have opposed Cordray’s nomination even though they have no problem with him on a personal or professional level, as came out in hearings featuring Cordray and the CFPB. In a recess appointment by President Obama that one court ruled was invalid despite previous presidents having done the same thing, Cordray, who may be best remembered as a five-time Jeopardy! champion, has been leading the consumer agency since January 2012 in a temporary position.
Republicans say that before confirming Cordray, Democrats must first agree to change the consumer bureau, which they want to be run by a bipartisan commission rather than a single director.
If Cordray doesn’t win confirmation, he’ll be out of his job in Washington leading the CFPB. If that happens, Democrats and Republicans alike will wait to see if he returns to Ohio to compete with FitzGerald as Democratic Party leader to defeat Gov. Kasich, who has many assets Democrats don’t have, including editorial support from major newspapers like The Columbus Dispatch and The Cincinnati Enquirer, donors like Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson who lavished tens of millions on GOP candidates last fall and is expected to give liberally again next year to GOP candidates, an improving job approval rating and the power of the office to dominate agendas.
President Obama first wanted Warren to head her brain child. The White House eventually gave Cordray the job on a temporary basis through a recess appointment, a procedural tactic done to avoid Senate confirmation. In January of this year, following his reelection last fall, President Obama nominated Cordray for a full term.
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