Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican with deep ties to the Dayton region, announced today that he’s running for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.
Husted will appear Monday morning at the University of Dayton Arena — the first stop on a statewide tour.
He released a video Sunday morning announcing his campaign.
“I’m running for governor because I want to help Ohio — and more importantly its people — win the future,” Husted said. “We need to create more prosperity, more jobs, better paying jobs. We need to help people get the skills and training and the education to compete and win those jobs. And we need to get the federal government out of our lives, from our poverty programs, our health care programs, our job training programs, so we have the ability to innovate and solve problems.”
Before becoming secretary of state, Husted represented part of Montgomery County in the state Senate, served as speaker of the House, and represented an Ohio House district including Kettering and some southern Dayton suburbs.
Husted, 49, joins Republicans U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor of Green, who have already made their formal announcements. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine of Cedarville has said he is running but has not made an official announcement.
Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, cannot seek re-election to a third term due to term limits.
Despite the crowded field, Husted said he’s been doing the work that it takes to win. “I love to compete. It’s what I’ve done my whole life,” he said. “But this campaign is not about me, it’s about fighting for all those people that I’ve encountered and gotten to know all those years.”
A former University of Dayton football player, Husted drew a comparison between football and politics, saying, “When I was at University of Dayton playing football there, it was about doing your part to help the team win. As governor, I just view the job the same way. I’m fighting for them. They’re all part of the team. We want Ohio to win. We want to win the future.”
Husted declined to go into detail about how he might manage Medicaid, the state and federally funded health care program for 3 million Ohioans, or what tax changes he might push. His vision is to foster economic growth, which will bring jobs and tax revenues to provide services to the needy, he said.
One policy issue he did talk about was opioid addiction, saying Ohio needs more treatment beds and health care providers to deal with the crisis. When asked if he personally knows anyone hooked on opioids, Husted said, “I wish I only knew one.”
“Unfortunately, right now, the only category Ohio is number one in is opioid deaths. I promise you if we can be number one in job creation or education, we will no longer be number one in opioid deaths,” he said. “We need to help people out of the despair and the trouble that they’re experiencing in their lives.”
Husted has a long history in Ohio Republican politics, starting more than two decades ago when he served as an aide to then Montgomery County commissioner Don Lucas. He represented Kettering in the Ohio House and Senate from 2000 to 2010, serving as House speaker from 2005 to 2009. He was elected Secretary of State in 2010 and again in 2014.
He lives in Upper Arlington, a Columbus suburb, with his wife, Tina, and their two children. His son from a previous marriage is graduating today from the University of Dayton.
Husted grew up in Montpelier in Williams County, and he said when he arrived on UD’s campus as a 17-year-old he thought he was bulletproof. When the equipment manager for the Flyer football team gave him jersey number 63 — too high for a running back — his protest was greeted with a response that it didn’t matter because he wouldn’t be playing anyway.
“I’ll show you,” Husted responded and he did, playing cornerback on the 1989 Division III national championship team and contributing with an interception in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, which was won by the Flyers 17-7.
Although he had a football coaching offer at the University of Toledo, Husted took a job as a deputy campaign manager on Republican Pete Davis’ congressional challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Tony Hall, D-Dayton.
“That’s where it all started for me as an adult,” he said.