Democratic AG candidate favored in Ohio; Presidential race 'tight'

Chris Rizo Nov. 4, 2008, 2:36pm

Paul Allen Beck

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline)-It appears unlikely that Republicans will gain the Ohio attorney general's office following this year's scandal that forced Democrat Marc Dann from office, a leading political scientist said Tuesday.

Vying for the two years remaining on Dann's first term are state Treasurer Richard Cordray, Republican former U.S. Attorney Mike
Crites and non-affiliated candidate Robert Owens.

"It looks like the Democrat is going to win the race and by a pretty large margin," said Paul Allen Beck, a political science professor and dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

"It is a Democrat year and that is going to benefit Richard Cordray," Beck told Legal Newsline, adding that Cordray has a "high degree of visibility" as the state treasurer.

As for the presidential election, Beck said the race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain is tight in the battleground state.

"It is genuinely in the toss-up category," he said.

In the AG race, a SurveyUSA poll finds that Cordray, the better funded candidate, leads Crites 50 percent to 35 percent, with 7 percent support for Owens.

The poll conducted Saturday and Sunday also found that 7 percent of Ohioan voters were undecided. The poll of 660 likely Ohio voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

The special AG election has largely been a referendum on ethics, with each of the candidates touting their unique ability to bring change and credibility to the office that was wracked by scandal during the Dann administration.

Dann, who was elected in 2006 after running an anti-corruption campaign, left office in mid-May amid a sexual harassment scandal and after admitting to an affair with a subordinate.

"Whoever goes into that office -- given the nature of the situation -- has to continue to boost morale, double-down the organization and has to try to rebuild the public's trust in the office," Cordray told Legal Newsline in an earlier interview. "Public trust is something that is lost quickly and rebuilt slowly."

For his part, Crites has criticized Cordray for his early support of Dann, whom critics say was unprepared to serve as the state's chief legal officer.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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