2018 Gov race: Ohio leaning Republican; Dayton mayor strong for Dems

9:35 a.m. Thursday, April 20, 2017 News
Staff Writer
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley says she’ll decide soon whether she will enter governor’s race. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Look into political guru Larry Sabato’s crystal ball and you see Ohio likely electing a Republican governor in 2018 but two Dems look like credible challengers including Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former northeastern Ohio Congresswoman Betty Sutton.

Columbus bureau
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted gave brief remarks during the 54th Ohio Electoral College meeting in the Ohio Statehouse Senate chambers on Dec. 19, 2016. JIM OTTE / STAFF

Related: Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley ‘considering’ run for governor

“Ohio turned sharply toward the GOP in 2016, and Republicans have a stronger field of candidates at the moment. At this early point, Leans Republican seems appropriate, though the environment will obviously matter,” according to Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a publication of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

AP Photo/John Minchillo, File
FILE – In this April 27, 2016, file photo, Ohio State Attorney General Mike DeWine, right, speaks to reporters alongside Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, left, during a news conference in Waverly, Ohio. DeWine and Reader planned a news conference Thursday, April 13, 2017, about the unsolved killings of seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family whose bodies were found at four homes near Piketon, Ohio, on April 22, 2016, as the anniversary of the massacre approaches.

The report, released Thursday, says Ohio Republicans have a “strong bench” with Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci as contenders.

Related: Mary Taylor signals she’s running for governor

Related: Renacci jumps into governor’s race with ‘Ohio First’ slogan

Democrats who have either declared they’re running or have expressed interest include former state representative Connie Pillich, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

AP Photo/David Richard, File
FILE – In this Aug. 12, 2015, file photo, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor speaks in front of Ford Motor Co.'s 2016 Ford F-650 truck, a medium-duty model previously built in Mexico, at the company's Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, Ohio. Taylor is stepping down as the state's insurance director. Gov. John Kasich announced Friday, March 31, 2017, that Taylor was leaving her job as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance effective Friday. The governor has named department's deputy director, Jillian Froment, as the new director.

“Sutton and Whaley are probably the two most credible candidates in that group. Looming in the background is Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, a former state attorney general and treasurer who may only run if Trump fires him from his current job, as well as former Rep. Dennis Kucinich,” the report says.

The full report from Sabato can be found here.

Whaley, who is running unopposed for mayor this year, has a fundraiser scheduled for May 8, her political committee bought online ads asking supporters if she should join the governor’s race, and the website domain “Whaley for Ohio” has been anonymously registered.

Columbus bureau
Betty Sutton

Related: Mike DeWine confirms run for Ohio governor in 2018

Husted, who represented Kettering in the Ohio General Assembly, said he has yet to decide when he’ll announce his plans for 2018.

Related: DeWine, Husted each have $2.5 million on hand for 2018 run

Columbus bureau
Congressman Jim Renacci. Getty Images.