Commentary: Three things that would set Jerry Springer apart as governor

Ashley Bunton - Contributing columnist

Former Cincinnati mayor and TV show host Jerry Springer hasn’t made any official comments in the press recently about whether or not he intends to join the Ohio gubernatorial race in 2018. He didn’t mention anything to the press Tuesday at the Fayette County Democrats’ Annual Fall Dinner.

News sources in September reported that Springer said he had not yet decided it he would join the race. Is he resisting peer pressure? Sources in the news say that friends have been pressuring him to run for governor.

Or, as I have heard others say, is he joking? Can anyone take him seriously? As one Record-Herald reader wrote on Facebook, “Isn’t this the same guy that had two midget brothers fighting over a trailer park hooker on T.V.? Gotta love local politics!”

Here’s three ways that Springer’s non-traditional career spanning television, politics and activism would set him in a league of his own as governor:

1. At 73-years-old Springer would be Ohio’s oldest elected governor, according to the National Governor’s Association.

With decades of experience as a reality TV host, Springer likely understands our culture better than any other candidate or governor in recent times.

What better person to run for governor than someone whose very legacy is in the 26 years of public storytelling on television of our most intimate issues, personal dramas and real-life escapades? To get people talking about drug prevention, Ohio Governor John Kasich recently started the Start Talking campaign. Springer’s been talking for 26 years — definitely ahead of the times — would he, if he chose to take another dive into politics, add something of his legacy to that campaign?

2. Springer’s public confession in 1982 to paying a prostitute exposed the often silent world of sex workers.

The New York Times reported Springer confessing to paying a prostitute with a check, but maintained that the check didn’t bounce, and that at the time it happened, he wasn’t Cincinnati’s mayor.

It was an effective statement. Most of the people stopped using checkbooks.

Whether this is the result of an increase in consumers’ choices (hello, Amazon) and the manifest destination of advanced technology (credit cards in favor of checkbooks), or from the awareness that like Springer, our checks might not work in the way we want them to, we may never know; yet it’s so commonplace now to use internet banking that some people pay for sex work electronically. This has given other politicians, like Senator Rob Portman in Ohio, reason to advance legislation to end the practice of sex trafficking on the dark web. See, Springer was definitively ahead of the times.

3. He’s willing to face reality and take significant risks.

In his 1982 TV commercial he admitted that he regretted the check incident but didn’t think it should stop him from being Ohio’s governor.

”Perhaps, like you, I’m not sure what any of this has to do with being Governor,” he says in the television commercial. ”But maybe my talking to you about this makes a point. Ohio is in a world of hurt. The next Governor is going to have to take some heavy risks and face some hard truths. I’m prepared to do that.”

As the aphorism goes — “Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”

Ashley Bunton

Contributing columnist

Reach Ashley by calling (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching for @ashbunton

Reach Ashley by calling (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching for @ashbunton