Energy / Voter Engagement Work

Choosing Ohio’s next Governor

Wealthy people influence government and elections through powerful institutions like banking, insurance, real estate, healthcare, manufacturing and of course energy and utility companies.

But powerful people don’t always agree. Some favor supporting Republicans, while others favor Democrats; many support both parties just to be safe. They think of the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into campaigns as investments in a future that favors their interests. Just prior to the 2016 election, this arrangement broke down as more people realized the system is rigged, giving populist outliers like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders greater traction.

Ohio operates much the same way.  However, during election season voters have a chance to counter the influence of those focused only on profit with informed ballot choices. If we are to create a future that provides good jobs, consumer rights, sustainable clean energy, and a clean and safe environment we must elect people who share our vision of that future.

Read the Columbus Dispatch comparison, “On the issues: Cordray, DeWine on health and the environment

Read the Toledo Blade’s comparison, “Lake Erie, other environmental issues factor into Ohio governor’s race

Ohio Citizen Action and Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund are non-partisan and don’t endorse candidates. We know that given the facts, Ohioans will elect candidates who represent the public’s interests.  We focus on the 2018 governor’s race, because Ohio stands at a crossroads on consumer and environmental issues and our next governor will play a key role in deciding which way we go.

Meet the two major party candidates

Mike DeWine (R) Richard Cordray (D)
Ohio Attorney General 2011-18 US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 2012-17
US Senator 1995-2007 Ohio Attorney General 2009-10
Lt Governor 1991-1994 Ohio Treasurer 2007-08
U.S. Congressman 1983-91 Franklin County Treasurer 2002-07
Ohio State Senator 1981-82 Ohio Solicitor General 1993-96
County Prosecutor 1977-81 Ohio State Representative 1991-92

Meet their major campaign contributors

Mike DeWine (R)

For 3 races

Richard Cordray  (D)

For 5 races

Party (GOP or Democrats) 7,969,796 5,425,934
Unknown 7,681,654 4,508,297
Candidate’s own money 2,904,245 364,523
Lawyers and lobbyists 2,603,282 2,291,250
Finance, insurance & real estate 1,677,508 1,225,561
General business 1,530,558 462,672
Gov’t agencies, education 921,775 663,845
Healthcare 733,424 160,806
Energy, natural resources 696,029 216,276
Construction 587,336 176,983
Agriculture 328,255 17,770
Transportation 202,343 101,311
Communication/electronics 116,667 193,781
Labor 72,333 2,212,309
TOTAL 28,079,849 18,099,573

Source: National Institute on Money in Politics

With respect to contributions from energy and utility companies, Mike DeWine has accepted more than three times as much as Rich Cordray, with FirstEnergy listed as his fourth most generous donor. He also accepted money from Murray Energy, which has recently been exposed as funding opposition to the Icebreaker Wind project on Lake Erie.  In the first quarter of 2018, DeWine got $75,000 from fossil fuel and utility interests. Cordray has also taken money from FirstEnergy lobbyists- about $30,000- but counts 40 unions among his top 100 donors.

While Mike DeWine hasn’t spoken much about energy in this campaign, his record as a U.S. Congressman is mixed, with multiple votes against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in addition to votes against regulating mercury from coal plants and for mountaintop removal coal mining. Similarly, Cordray has spoken about his opposition to a ban on fracking for natural gas but also pledges to double Ohio’s renewable energy targets by 2025 and supports removing legislative obstacles to new wind power development.

Besides vote, what can you do?

  • Attend events where the candidates will speak and ask questions about energy and the environment. Learn more about our Candidate Education Project.
  • Engage with the candidates on social media about energy and environmental issues. Tag them (and us) for maximum impact @RichCordray, @MikeDeWine, @OHIOCitizenAct
  • Do more research on your own. Here are links to the National Institute on Money in Politics’ Follow the Money project for both candidates across all their races.

Mike DeWine            Richard Cordray

Energy platforms for both candidates

Rich Cordray 

Mike DeWine

  • Early voting starts October 10. Vote early and encourage other clean energy voters to do so too.