20110718 richardcordray consumerfinancialprotectionbureau obama 54
U.S. President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Richard Cordray (R) to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Rose Garden at the White House on July 18, 2011 in Washington, D.C. - 

Kai Ryssdal: There's nothing, the saying goes, like a deadline to concentrate the mind. So with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau set to open up for business this week, today President Obama finally got around to deciding who he wants to run the place. Richard Cordray's the name. Former attorney general of the great state of Ohio, and, as the president said at the White House today, so much more.

Barack Obama: Back in the '80s, Richard was also a five-time Jeopardy! champion, and a semi-finalist in the Tournament of Champions. Not too shabby.

No not too shabby at all, but Richard Cordray is no Elizabeth Warren. She's been running the bureau -- in function, if not actual title -- since it was created a year ago. Marketplace's Jennifer Collins has the story.

Jennifer Collins: Elizabeth Warren is a tough act to follow. Here's a former student.

Katherine Porter: When I am in Washington with her, people do stop and introduce themselves and shake her hand and ask her questions.

Katherine Porter is now a law professor at University of California, Irvine. She says Warren's scrappy, "fight for people" attitude has made her popular -- it's also made her polarizing.

Rob Manning: This is a compromise appointment.

Rob Manning is the author or Credit Card Nation. A little background: Warren was tapped as interim head of the bureau about a year ago. She brought Richard Cordray into the agency. The agency is supposed to officially open for business on Thursday.

Manning: He's far more of an on-the-ground negotiator-enforcer, really "the buck stops here"-type of guy.

As Ohio attorney general, Cordray sued loan servicers for violating state consumer laws, and went after financial firms for what he called "fraudulent foreclosure practices." George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki says confirmation could still be a problem.

Todd Zywicki: Cordray would be a perfectly palatable and reasonable choice if he were say one member of a five-member bipartisan commission.

Republicans are pushing for a commission instead of one director of the bureau. They've said they'll block any appointment. Maybe Jeopardy! should consider a new category: "Contentious Political Confirmations for 500?"

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.