Ohio governor candidate blames ‘career politicians’ for state’s challenges

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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WATCH: Ohio Gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci stopped by Cox Media Group Ohio on Friday and\ talked about why his wants to be governor.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Congressman says he would freeze state spending to get finances on track

Republican governor candidate Jim Renacci painted a bleak picture of Ohio on Friday, pointing to declining job creation, young people leaving the state, 1 in 4 residents on Medicaid and “people starting to lose faith in the American dream.”

Renacci was in Dayton to speak to local manufacturing and Realtor groups, and he visited the Dayton Daily News to talk about his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. Renacci, who owned car dealerships and other businesses in the Akron area, served eight years as councilman and mayor of Wadsworth, and he’s now in his seventh year as a U.S. Congressman.

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He called himself a political outsider, repeatedly blaming Ohio and Washington’s problems on “career politicians.”

“What really drove me to Washington is kind of the same thing that’s driving me back to Ohio,” Renacci said. “I went to Washington as an outsider businessperson saying we have to change the system. What I’ve learned in Washington is that I can be there and play defense for 20 years, but I’m an offensive guy. I like to move the ball down the field and make a difference.”

Drug crisis

In addition to frequent Republican goals such as changing Ohio’s tax and regulatory climate, Renacci suggested that significantly increasing career-tech education options could help solve the state’s opioid crisis.

“We have a state that promotes everybody falling into a very thin path of, ‘you’ve gotta go to college, you’ve gotta go to college,’ ” Renacci said. “We have to see that being a plumber or carpenter or an auto tech are not only careers, they’re healthy careers.”

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Renacci suggested that when students struggle with math or science and believe they are not college-bound, they see too few career-related opportunities within their schools and often slip into addiction. He said that idea came from discussions with four or five recovering addicts who he calls his opioid task force.

Ohio has actually increased focus on career tech education in the past few years, including Gov. John Kasich’s call to start the process in middle schools, but Renacci called for vocational classes in every high school, rather than regional career tech centers.

Medicaid

Renacci argued that Medicaid expansion, which covers about 725,000 Ohioans, is not financially sustainable in the long term. He said he would freeze new enrollment, add work requirements and focus Medicaid on “the elderly, children, the indigent and the disabled.”

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Kasich and others have argued that gutting Medicaid expansion would eliminate key resources that Ohio is using to deal with the addiction crisis today, while the federal government is paying 90 percent of the cost.

Other issues

Renacci said he is against marijuana legalization, pointing to the number of Ohioans who already fail employment drug tests. He’s against releasing more low-level drug offenders from crowded jails, saying too many end up reoffending.

Renacci said he wants to freeze state spending for four years because the revenue base is declining. And he would advocate for state government jobs to be spread to struggling areas of Ohio, rather than clustered in Columbus, where the economy is doing better.

Renacci was one of the few Ohio leaders to endorse Donald Trump as early as the 2016 Republican primary, again, because he saw Trump as an outsider, rather than a career politician. He said he’s happy with the direction Trump is trying to take on tax and regulatory reform, infrastructure and health care, but said he needs Congressional help.

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“I know people want to compare me to Donald Trump and that’s fine. If you look at the message he has, that’s the most important thing,” Renacci said. “You could spend $30 million in this primary with a bad message, and you’re going to lose to a guy with $5 million with a good message.”

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