By Marc Kovac
The incumbent secretary of state is running for the U.S. Senate, not re-election.
COLUMBUS — Former House speaker and current state Sen. Jon Husted has made official his long-rumored plans to run for Ohio secretary of state next year.
The Republican from the Dayton area formally launched his campaign Thursday at a press conference in Columbus, stating his desire to “change the system,” particularly the hyper-political apportionment process that will draw district lines for the next decade.
“Ohio can and must do better,” Husted said. “If we’re going to solve the larger problems this state faces, we need to do more than change the occupants of the office. We need to change the system.”
Husted is the first Republican to enter the field, joining Democratic Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown in the 2010 primary.
Incumbent Democrat Jennifer Brunner earlier announced her run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican George Voinovich.
Husted served in the Ohio House from 2001-09, including four years as speaker. He was elected to the state Senate last year.
The secretary of state race will be among the most pivotal next year, because the winner will serve on the state’s apportionment board. Members of the board meet every 10 years to redraw legislative districts, based on new U.S. Census statistics.
The state constitution sets the membership of that board to include the governor, state auditor, secretary of state and single majority and minority members of the Ohio House and Senate.
Republicans and Democrats will be vying for control of that board to put their parties in a better position during subsequent elections.
“I know that this will be, at this point, one of the more hotly contested races,” Husted said Thursday. “It certainly will require a lot of financial resources. And I believe that we’ll be able to generate the financial support necessary to be successful.”
If elected, Husted said one of his main goals will be to change the reapportionment process, making it more bipartisan to stop gerrymandering and prompt fairer drawing of legislative and congressional districts.
“No longer will politicians pick the voters, but the voters will pick their public officials,” he said.