Former Vice President Joe Biden waded into the race for governor of Ohio Tuesday by endorsing the candidacy of Richard Cordray, a former Obama administration official.
Biden, a potential challenger to President Donald Trump in 2020, is the first high-profile Democrat to offer his support to Cordray in a race that will be pivotal to the party's hopes of winning back working-class voters, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
The former vice president cited Cordray's stewardship of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), a controversial federal agency created with the 2010-passed Dodd-Frank Act, as proof he was a "fighter" who would not shrink from the challenges of governing.
"I support Rich Cordray for governor of Ohio because he is smart, principled, pragmatic, and a fighter," Biden said. "[As head of the CFPB] he took on big banks, lenders and credit card companies for people who were cheated out of their hard-earned money."
Biden, who called Cordray an "advocate for working families," committed himself to achieving a Democratic victory in Ohio this November.
"As Governor, Rich will make sure every kid in Ohio has a chance to get a good education, he'll protect Medicaid expansion, and he'll make sure that economic opportunity and good jobs are available across Ohio," Biden said. "He will be an advocate for working families, and that is why I'm looking forward to helping him win."
The endorsement comes on the heels of Cordray's defeat of former Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich in last week's Democratic gubernatorial primary. Cordray is set to face off against Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine this fall to succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is prohibited from running again by term limits.
Cordray has long been a fixture of Ohio's political scene dating back to his failed bid for the United States Senate in 2000. He then served as Ohio's treasurer from 2007 to 2008 before being elected attorney general. Cordray narrowly lost his bid for re-election to that office, to DeWine, in the midst of the Tea Party wave in 2010.
Cordray was tapped to join the Obama administration in 2011 as CFPB's first director, a role he used to push for greater regulation of the financial industry. As director of the agency, Cordray became a frequent target of Congressional Republicans, who criticized his agency for lacking proper oversight.
In 2014, Cordray was investigated by Congress for presiding over a $215 million renovation, nearly $160 million over budget, of the CFPB headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In November, Cordray, who's term leading the agency was set to expire in June of 2018, announced his resignation after months of speculation that was weighing another bid for elective office in Ohio. Prior to resigning, Cordray attempted to install his chief of staff, Leandra English, as CFPB's director. The action created a standoff between the president, who cited his right to appoint an acting director under the authority of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, and Congressional Democrats, who backed English in an attempt to prevent Trump from appointing someone who would undue CFPB's Obama-era regulations. The debate over who the rightful leader of CFPB was eventually decided in court, with a federal judge siding with the Trump administration.