Dayton Mayor Enters Ohio Governor’s Race

By John Celock

Dayton’s mayor kicked off her campaign for Ohio governor Monday, saying that Republican rule has hurt the state.

Democrat Nan Whaley formally entered the growing Democratic gubernatorial field highlighting her work as chief executive of the Buckeye State’s sixth largest city. She took swipes at Republicans who have largely controlled Ohio government since the 1990s. Gov. John Kasich (R) is term-limited in 2018.

“Republicans have run things in Columbus for 25 years, and they’ve run this state into the ground. The Ohio Miracle is the Ohio Mirage,” Whaley said in a statement. “Ohio jobs have disappeared and the state has walked away from our local communities under Republican Statehouse rule. Even Gov. Kasich now admits Ohio has fallen into recession.”

Republicans have controlled the Ohio governor’s office since 1991 with the exception of Democrat Ted Strickland’s governorship from 2007-2011.

Whaley used her statement to focus on the national opioid addiction crisis, which has hit Ohio among other states. She said that she has used her tenure as mayor to focus on addressing the issue in Dayton and wanted more done at the state level. She also highlighted her work on infrastructure issues in Dayton and in creating universal pre-K in the city.

“Politicians have been standing idle on the sidelines for too long, watching the heroin epidemic ravage our communities and destroy lives, families and loved ones,” Whaley said of the opioid crisis. “The big drug companies that claimed opioids weren’t addictive and created this crisis must be held responsible and pay their fair share to clean it up. We need to treat this epidemic like the statewide emergency that it is.”

Whaley was first elected mayor in 2013 and is on track to win a second term this year. She previously served eight years on the Dayton city Commission, where she as the youngest woman ever elected to the body. She was 29 when she was first elected city commissioner in 2005.

Whaley is the fourth Democrat to enter what is shaping up to be a largely female Democratic contest. Former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, former state Rep. Connie Pillich and state Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni have all entered the gubernatorial contest. U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, a former state attorney general and state treasurer, is considered a potential Democratic candidate.

On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci have all entered the gubernatorial contest. Kasich has indicated that Taylor is his preferred successor.

Whaley, Taylor, Sutton and Pillich are all seeking to be Ohio’s second female governor and the first woman elected to the office. Former Gov. Nancy Hollister (R) served 11 days as Ohio governor in early 1999, following Republican George Voinovich’s resignation to become a U.S. senator. Hollister, who had served one term as lieutenant governor, served until Republican Bob Taft, who was elected governor in 1998, could take the oath of office.

Currently five women – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez (R), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) – hold governorships. Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is expected to assume the governorship later this month when Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is confirmed as ambassador to China. Fallin and Martinez are both term-limited in 2018, while Raimondo and Brown are expected to seek reelection next year. Ivey has not indicated if she will seek a full term as governor in 2018.

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) is the only woman seeking a governorship this year. In 2018, several women have kicked off gubernatorial campaigns around the country, with several more expected to enter the field in their states.