Ohioans pick Cordray to be their next AG

Kelly Holleran Nov. 5, 2008, 1:22am

Richard Cordray (D)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline)--Hundreds of people were crammed into a ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel in Columbus with Democratic attorney general candidate Richard Cordray when he was projected the winner of the race.

Those same people exploded into loud cheers, some jumping, others hugging each other and crying, when Democrat Barack Obama was declared president-elect.

"We have come together as a people and have broken the barrier of race," said Ohio Governor Ted Strickland to the crowd. "We are a stronger country and a more unified country because of what happened today."

The throngs erupted into chants of "Yes We Can!" every time they heard Obama's name throughout the night.

And although Obama's nomination was the main topic of the night, other key democratic victories were celebrated with gusto.

"Tonight we elected someone who will be a great attorney general - Richard Cordray!" Lee Fisher, lieutenant governor of Ohio, shouted to a crowd of cheers and fists pumping in the air.

The excitement in the room was contagious - even from outside it was easy to hear cheering in the hotel's second floor.

A group of about eight celebrated victories by doing the Electric Slide at the front of the ballroom to any song that played.

And by about 11 p.m., so many Democrats had shown up to support their leaders that police men stood guard at the bottom of the stairs to the second floor, forbidding anyone from entering the standing-room only area.

Cordray was running against Republican Mike Crites and independent Robert Owen.

Crites and Owen both were hopeful early in the night.

Crites was already making plans for his turn as attorney general, criticizing the state's voter registration system in which the registrations of 200,000 people did not match state records.

"If I'm fortunate enough to win the people of Ohio's vote, I intend to call for a complete review," he said. "This has been lingering for far too long."

The number of voters who flocked to the polls impressed Crites.

"There was a huge voter turnout," he said. "I think that can be attributed to good weather and people coming out to support their candidate."

Owens was proud of his election race, even if victory evaded him.

"We've had a really great race as evidenced by the fact that several of the points, especially in regard to no-bid contracts and sludge funds that our opponents were ignoring at the beginning of the race," he said. "They subsequently started adopting those positions as the race went on.

"We've been able to display leadership. We've been able to raise issues that wouldn't have been discussed. We've been able to make policy changes."

The 49-year-old Cordray won despite a high-profile scandal that caused fellow Democrat and former Attorney General Marc Dann to resign from office in May.

Dann was forced out of office after top aides were implicated in a sexual harassment scandal. He then admitted to an affair with an employee.

Cordray currently serves as Ohio's treasurer.

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