M.L Schultze / WKSU
Rich Cordray enters the Workers Local 574 Hall in central Ohio. The hall is small – a spot of blue voters in the sea of red that is rural Ohio. Cordray was expected to be the unbeatable candidate in the Ohio Democratic governorship.
The former Consumer Protection Director has name recognition and Democratic Street cred for once duped by President Trump.
But then came Dennis Kucinich's late entry into the race. This former mayor, congressman and presidential candidate is a liberal zeal – and now there is tension among the Democrats in Ohio. In the hall, about 50 people are nodding and clapping as Cordray talks about the government's work for the people, the school-free community college. and the charter school and payday loans that revolve around the republican states.
But the first question he asked has nothing to do with it. Throughout his career, Rich Cordray had an A + rating from the National Rifle Association. Dan Giles, a voter from the audience, asks Cordray what he's going to do about gun violence.
"We have a gun problem in our society, and I think that every thinking person with shootings at the school recognizes the shootings of the community across the country," says Cordray. "We need to find practical steps to reduce violence and save lives."
Cordray supports the second amendment, but also universal background checks and bans on bumps and high capacity magazines.
Giles leaves the meeting undecided. "I wanted to get something out of my heart and I did not hear that," he says.
Dennis Kucinich has been working with Cordray on the issue for months, supported by a YouTube video by Cordray speaking in 2010 of gun lawyers when he described guns as not just a constitutional but also a natural right.
M.L Schultze / WKSU
Kucinich, in contract, has an F-rating from the NRA. "And I'm proud of it," he says. "It represents the fact that I am politically independent."
He wants to ban offensive types in a state where gun laws have been relaxed more than a dozen times. He is now 71 years old but still looks like the mayor of Cleveland 40 years ago. A poll by Baldwin Wallace University less than a week before Election Day shows that 41 percent of Democratic voters still have not decided.
Weapons are not the only difference to Cordray. "Fracking must be over," says Kucinich. "He does not do it … If I legalize marijuana, I think it's long gone, he's not doing it, the death penalty, I think it should be banned, he's not doing it."
All this aligns Kucinich with Senator Bernie Sanders' Democratic Party wing, but a number of Ohio Democrat insiders fear Kucinich would alienate the independent voters who are crucial to a victory for the Democrats in November , The liberal avant-garde Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of Cordray's biggest supporters.
Both candidates are progressive, says Sarah Poggione, a political scientist at Ohio University, which means that the biggest difference between them is actually their personality for voters. Where Cordray is cerebral and detailed, Kucinich is "fiercer, in some ways less polished."
And Kucinich, because of his involvement as a Fox News analyst, his call for President Obama's impeachment and his assassination, has come under fire for visits to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad – who, he says, is part of his global peace effort were.
It is unclear what this means for voters in a state struggling with an opiate crisis and an uncertain economy. It is clear that many voters are looking for clues even before the election on Tuesday.