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Talk of Jerry Springer making a run for Ohio governor is heating up, and the 73-year-old is getting closer to making a decision on whether to enter the packed 2018 race.
Springer, the former Cincinnati mayor and famed talk show host, is discussing a possible run with political consultants and is polling the race, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Wednesday. He has also attended a number of fundraisers for Ohio Democrats and local chapters of the Democratic Party as rumors have swirled about a possible run.
“I know there’s talk,” Springer said in a statement to Business Insider. “I haven’t decided anything, and certainly no announcement Monday. … I will be in Cleveland that day giving a speech at the Labor Day rally supporting unions.”
Springer was referencing an appearance he’s set to make at the Service Employees International Union 1199’s Labor Day rally, which the Enquirer reported had led some Democrats to speculate that he may seek the union’s endorsement. The publication reported that Springer plans to attend an event for Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge on Monday as well.
“There have been [people] who have asked him to run for governor, and he is considering it and will decide that pretty soon,” Jene Galvin, a who co-hosts a weekly podcast with Springer, told the Enquirer. “He’s about done figuring it out, but he had to give some serious thought to it first.”
The Democratic primary race in Ohio already has four declared candidates, with others aside from Springer still a possibility to jump in, such as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray. One leading Ohio Democrat told the Enquirer that she doesn’t think it’s too late for Springer to enter the race, as many local unions and party leaders have withheld endorsements until the field of candidates is finally set.
Springer, known locally as a prolific fundraiser for Ohio Democrats, would enter the race with far more name recognition and cash than his opponents, who are seeking to succeed term-limited Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
In late May, Business Insider reported that state Democrats were pushing Springer to run for governor, as more than half a dozen Democrats familiar with the race told us. Many who confirmed the push to Business Insider said Springer, who sought the Democratic nomination for governor of Ohio in 1982, could be a good fit for the current political climate.
The talk-show host’s proponents highlighted his ability in the era of President Donald Trump to provide his own funding for a campaign and to connect with working-class voters familiar with his television show and history in Ohio politics.
Speaking with the Enquirer in February, Springer, who painted himself as a “populist, liberal progressive,” said the idea of his candidacy gained steam because of Trump’s victory.
“What’s probably giving it more juice this time is the Trump victory,” Springer told the Enquirer. “People are thinking that somebody outside the traditional political establishment can win. His constituency is basically mine. These are fans of the show. I could be Trump without the racism.”
Springer called that constituency “ignored.”
“That ought to be the constituency of the Democratic Party,” he said. “Trump has misled these people. They’re not helped by deregulation. They’re not helped by getting rid of healthcare. These people are being duped.”
John Green, a distinguished professor of political science at the University of Akron, told Business Insider in a May email that “under ordinary circumstances, a candidate like Springer would not be an especially strong prospect for governor.”
“For one thing he has been out of Ohio politics for some time,” Green said. “But given the success of Trump, a candidate like Springer might be successful. The Democrats have a number of declared candidates, but most are unknown outside of own area and none have held state-wide office. So there is an opportunity for an unconventional candidate with name recognition.”