Democratic operatives in Ohio are reportedly urging former Democratic Mayor Jerry Springer of Cincinnati to mount a campaign for the state gubernatorial race in 2018. While Springer is still active in Ohio politics, he is most known for hosting a raucous daytime television show.
With GOP Gov. John Kasich of Ohio set to complete his final term in 2018, Ohio Democrats are eyeing Springer as a potential candidate to replace him, citing his name recognition and his ties to the Buckeye State.
"I think he has a very strong ability to communicate what I think is the heart of the Democratic message," former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio told Business Insider. "I think he is a superb communicator."
Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, noted Springer was a visible booster for the party in Ohio.
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"Jerry every year does a lot of Ohio Democratic Party county events," Burke said. "And whenever he does them, he always draws a good crowd. He continues to have a very real interest in Ohio politics."
Burke added: "There have been a significant number of smart, leading folks from the Ohio Democratic Party or who have held Ohio Democratic Party elected positions who have talked to Jerry about this."
Several Ohio Democrats anonymously expressed misgivings about a Springer campaign, noting that the television host comes with baggage that extends beyond his onscreen antics. In 1974, Springer resigned from the Cincinnati City Council amid a prostitution scandal. He also mounted an unsuccessful bid for Ohio governor in 1982, finishing dead last in that election's Democratic primary.
On the other hand, Professor John Green of the University of Akron noted that Springer's reputation could allow him to benefit from the political climate set by President Donald Trump's election.
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"Under ordinary circumstances, a candidate like Springer would not be an especially strong prospect for governor ... But given the success of Trump, a candidate like Springer might be successful," Green said.
On Feb. 11, Springer asserted that he and Trump shared an overlapping base of support, likening the president's voters to audiences tuning into "The Jerry Springer Show."
"His constituency is basically mine," Springer told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "These are fans of the show. I could be Trump without the racism."
On May 30, Springer issued a statement addressing the speculation over his political future.
"The issue of me running for political office frequently comes up because I am constantly touring around, giving speeches and raising money for the party," Springer said. "Truthfully, I've been doing that for at least the last 30 years as a private citizen because I believe joining the conversation is part of being a good citizen. If I do ever decide to throw my hat in the ring ... I will let people know. At this point ... I don't even have a hat."