Ohio governor debate highlights party agenda

Associated Press


Democrats used the first debate among their four candidates for governor Tuesday to take on Republican leadership in Columbus and Washington, D.C., and to highlight their party’s promises to do better at creating jobs, improving education and helping the middle class.

The contenders to succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is term-limited, largely agreed on policy priorities as they met at Martins Ferry High School. But the event provided an opportunity for ex-U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, ex-state Rep. Connie Pillich and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni to try to distinguish themselves from their rivals.

Their town hall-style forum came as two other high-profile Democrats – federal consumer finance chief Richard Cordray and tabloid TV host Jerry Springer – mull whether to enter the race. Four Republicans also are vying for the job.

Sutton touted her record at local, state and federal levels of government as a distinction. She pledged to take on President Donald Trump if elected, including standing up for the Affordable Care Act, which she voted to support.

Whaley told the gathered crowd that she has championed successful initiatives as an executive officeholder that can be used as blueprints across the state. Noting her role as head of a new mayors’ coalition, she said Kasich and the Republican-led Legislature have left Ohio cities behind.

Pillich, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said Democrats need to reclaim the label of patriots, which is not exclusively Republican.

“There is nothing patriotic about sending jobs overseas just so you can fund a tax break for billionaires,” she said.

Schiavoni highlighted his years as a senator, including bills he’s introduced to crack down on poor-performing charter schools and to keep young Ohio residents in the state including by offering financial incentives to college graduates who buy homes.

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