If reality TV star Donald Trump defied the odds and political gravity to make it all the way to the White House, paving the way for another wealthy TV personality with a vast following to follow in his footsteps, might Jerry Springer be Ohio’s next governor?
A staunch Democrat who was the mayor of Cincinnati before he started hosting The Jerry Springer Show, a raunchy and sometimes violent day-time TV program that made him famous and widely wealthy, the idea of Jerry Springer running for higher office got a couple trial runs that didn’t end well. His first flop came in 1970 when he ran for Congress. His second one came in 1982, when he jumped into the race for Ohio governor and found that his most famous exploit at the time, writing a check to a hooker across the Ohio River in Kentucky, didn’t play all that well with voters.
But that was then, when decorum and propriety were prized possessionS. In today’s brave new world of Trumpism, his transgressions from years past might be his calling card. Donald Trump’s many transgressions with one women after another had little impact on his run for the White House. Whether the Donald engaged in out right adultery or merely popped a few Tic Tacs before kissing women and grabbing their private parts hardly seemed to matter, Trump was bullet proof on his many torrid issues, even though any other candidate doing the same would have fallen back to earth long ago.
Democrats have a good field of possible candidates for Ohio governor two years out, including well-known options like Congressman Tim Ryan and Consumer Finance Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray, as well as former Representative Betty Sutton, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune and Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni.
Still, Jerry Springer stands out for several reasons.
The always insightful MediaInsider column in the Columbus Free Press put it this way on who should run for Ohio governor in 2018, “Don’t have $50 million? Don’t run for governor.” MediaInsider author John K. Hartman summed up the dilemma facing Democrats in two years when John Kasich leaves office, opening the contest to anyone who can raise the big bucks needed to win.
“This year’s election taught us that big money has taken over Ohio politics and that the news media’s role in influencing election outcomes has become insignificant,” Hartman, who holds a PhD in journalism but has since retired from teaching it after decades in the classroom, school us with his characteristic biting humor.
Hartman calculates that the only Democrat “connected to Ohio who has the kind of money to compete with the Republicans is talk show host Jerry Springer.” Hartman’s reasoning seems pretty sound. “Donald Trump showed that a well-heeled celebrity can overcome seemingly insurmountable baggage and win the presidency. Jerry for governor, anyone?”
This reporter caught up with Mr. Springer twice this year, once in Columbus and once in Philadelphia. Even though MSNBC used my video of Springer in Columbus without first asking permission, what he said was newsworthy. So was what he told me in Philadelphia at a Democratic breakfast.
It’s probably not outlandish to think that many in Springer’s TV audience, in studio and watching from somewhere else, voted for Donald Trump, if they voted at all.
He knows well his audience of white-working class folks who think they’ve been left behind. He also has the money to bankroll his run. He’s a master of the media, much like Trump is, so working for headlines is just a Tweet away for Springer, who happens to be far more likable than Trump was, is or will be.