GOP candidates for governor fail to earn our endorsement

Attorney General Mike DeWine has made it impossible for us to endorse him for the Republican nomination for governor in the May 8 primary because he dropped the ball on a major public-corruption case in this region.

DeWine’s chief challenger, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, has made it impossible for us to support her because of the extreme views she espouses on several major issues.

As a result, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of taking a pass in this race. We do so with much trepidation.

Members of The Vindicator’s Editorial Board spent an inordinate amount of time interviewing the two candidates, studying their resumes and evaluating their performances in office.

Under normal circumstances, we would have endorsed DeWine, a former U.S. senator, lieutenant governor, U.S. representative, state senator and Greene County prosecutor.

But the attorney general’s failure to bring charges against the mastermind of the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal enterprise has made him ineligible for our consideration.

The Oakhill conspiracy epitomized the long history of public corruption in the Mahoning Valley. We strongly believe that DeWine, as the state’s chief law-enforcement officer, was in a position to strike a blow for honest government by going after an influential individual who corralled public officials into doing his bidding.

Indeed, it was DeWine’s prosecutorial staff that characterized shopping center developer Anthony M. Cafaro Sr. as the mastermind of the Oakhill criminal enterprise. They also called him Mr. Big and the puppet master in court documents.

Nonetheless, DeWine closed the case after securing convictions in 2016 of three participants: then Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally; former Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino; and, Martin Yavorcik, a Youngstown lawyer who has since lost his license.

They were the puppets controlled by puppet master Cafaro.

Yet, DeWine told The Vindicator Editorial Board he did not have the evidence to support criminal charges against the businessman.

That’s certainly not the message we got from the numerous court documents filed by state prosecutors. Not once did the attorney general’s office concede that the inclusion of Cafaro in the case was nothing more than window dressing designed to appease the press and residents who want to see an end to public corruption in the Mahoning Valley.

Cafaro was president of the Cafaro Co., one of the nation’s leading shopping center developers, when he masterminded the criminal enterprise to block county government’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place, the former South Side Medical Center.

He has since retired as president of the company.

DeWine was unpersuasive when he told us he didn’t have the evidence to force the prominent businessman to defend himself in a court of law.

As for Lt. Gov. Taylor, who has served as state auditor, state representative and Green City Council member, we find ourselves unable to come to terms with her positions on abortion, Ohio’s Medicaid expansion and gun control.

‘No exceptions’

Taylor told us she is “pro-life with no exceptions,” which means she opposes abortion even when the life of the mother is at stake, or pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

She opposes any additional gun control measures as a way of preventing school shootings or other such tragedies.

Taylor also said she would end the Medicaid expansion implemented by Republican Gov. John Kasich to cover 700,000 Ohioans who work but do not receive health care from their employers and cannot afford to pay for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The lieutenant governor said the expansion is not financially sustainable and believes able-bodied individuals should be required to work.

Taylor insists she is the only conservative in the race and that DeWine is actually a liberal, a charge he vehemently rejects.

Our endorsement of Taylor would mean that we agree with her extreme positions on several key issues. We do not.

Thus, The Vindicator withholds its endorsement in the May 8 primary for the Republican nomination for governor.

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