RICHARD CORDRAY, the Democratic candidate for governor, tours Findlay wind turbine builder One Energy on Wednesday. Cordray said clean, renewable energy is the future. (Photo by Randy Roberts / The Courier)

By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, while stumping in Findlay on Wednesday, said he would heed farmers’ concerns about open markets, tariffs, and how to clean up Lake Erie.

Cordray said he would work to secure markets for farmers, who have been dismayed with commodity price declines resulting from President Trump’s trade war.

“Farmers need to have certainty. They need to have predictability. They’re getting really swung in a very tough way and getting squeezed from the policies in Washington and in Columbus,” Cordray said.

“They feel like they’re not being listened to on how we clean up Lake Erie, and the (governor’s) executive order where they felt that they were shut out of that process.”

Many Hancock County farmers think they have been unfairly blamed for algae blooms in Lake Erie, which kill fish and can sicken and kill people.

So they were unhappy when Republican Gov. John Kasich in July issued an executive order that could lead to increased fertilizer regulations. The order could tighten state oversight of farmers in eight northwest Ohio watersheds, including the Blanchard River watershed.

If elected governor, “I will listen to their voices,” Cordray said of farmers.

Separately, Cordray bristled when asked about a campaign ad for his Republican opponent, Mike DeWine. The television ad implies that DeWine made testing of old rape kits a higher priority when he became attorney general after Cordray.

While a law now requires rape kits to be submitted for testing within 30 days, that law did not exist when Cordray was attorney general in 2009 and 2010.

“What (DeWine) knows is that issue came up when I had five months left in my tenure. We immediately got on it. We put in place the protocol that he’s used on this issue,” Cordray said. “We got robotics testing into the labs that speeded up the process. We immediately asked for rape kits to be sent in for testing.

“It took him seven years to work off this problem,” Cordray said. “If he thinks I should have done it in five months, he was incredibly negligent in letting this fester for seven years, and if it couldn’t be done for seven years, then this is a totally bogus claim, and he knows it,” Cordray said.

He wasn’t finished.

“By the way, the people who know us best — the Fraternal Order of Police around the state — have endorsed Cordray for governor over DeWine, so that tells you all you need to know there,” he said.

Visiting wind turbine builder One Energy on Allen Township Road 215, just east of Whirlpool Corp., Cordray touted “clean, renewable energy” as the future.

“I want us to step into that future and be more aggressive about promoting projects like this,” he said, referring to the five wind turbines nearby, built by One Energy to help power the Ball Corp. and Whirlpool Corp. plants.

“It is dependable power at dependable cost. It will help keep bills down for consumers, it will help keep bills down for businesses,” he said. “It’s good jobs for Ohio. It’s where we should be going.”

Cordray also discussed his views on other issues:

He said he has a plan to reduce health care costs. It includes protecting the state’s Medicaid expansion to cover more low-income people, started four years ago by Kasich.

He also would work to improve insurance exchanges, which have never worked well in Ohio, he said.

“We have never gotten the competition and the cost control that flows from that in Ohio, and we need to do that,” Cordray said.

He said he would fight to reduce prescription drug prices.

“The pharmacy-benefit middlemen — the greedy middlemen who have been taking hundreds of millions of dollars from that system — they need to be reined in,” Cordray said. “And we can negotiate harder on prescription drug prices for seniors to bring them down.”

He linked DeWine with the now-bankrupt, scandal-ridden online charter school ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow).

“The failure of the current officials, including Mike DeWine, to do anything about ECOT that stole $186 million from Ohio taxpayers while they looked the other way and ignored the problem, that’s a big stain and it’s something that we need to have a change in Columbus,” Cordray said.

Cordray said he would fight the opioid addiction epidemic on multiple fronts. He said he would work with local law enforcement agencies, reduce physicians’ over-prescription of addictive painkillers, and provide more support for substance abuse treatment.

“Less putting drug addicts in our prisons, which is very expensive,” he said. “More community treatment and more funding for that. That’s the right approach.”

Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin

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