The youngest contender in the Republican race for Ohio governor went straight to the age issue on Monday when asked about 70-year-old Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s decision to run in 2018.
When asked about the newest addition to the race, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said, “‘New’ would not be the way to describe that.”
Husted, 49, said he has “always been friends” with DeWine and volunteered for his U.S. Senate campaign in the 1990s.
But, said Husted, “I’m excited about the opportunity to provide a new generation of leadership for Ohio so that we can win a more prosperous future.”
Dewine campaign spokesman Dave Luketic responded to Husted’s comments by saying, “I am happy to provide him a volunteer spot in the general election.”
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Husted, formerly of Kettering, has been an elected official since 2000 when he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. DeWine’s first public job was in 1976 when he was elected Greene County prosecutor.
The other Republican contenders are Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, 51, and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, 58, of Wadsworth.
On the Democratic side are Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, 41, former state representative Connie Pillich, 56, of Cincinnati, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, 37, of Boardman, and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, 53, of Akron.
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Husted was in Dayton to talk to the Rotary Club at Sinclair Community College. It was billed as an official visit by the secretary of state, but he spent most of his time talking about his vision for Ohio.
“This was not a political speech about me running for governor,” Husted said afterward. “This was a call to action to educate people in Ohio about what I think the challenges that we face are.”
Top among them is an unprepared workforce and the need to better educate children and workers, he said.
“If we don’t do a better job with this generation of kids….we are not going to be the most prosperous nation 30 years from now,” Husted said.
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He said people are struggling economically and wages are down so they can’t pay for health care and education. He called for change and innovation in the way children are educated.
“There is evidence that if you do things differently you can have better outcomes and spend less money,” Husted said. “In saying that, I recognize that there are some times you’re going to have to spend more money on things, some times you’re going to spend less money on things. It’s priority setting and a willingness to change the way you do things.”
Ohio has lowered taxes and reformed tort law after businesses said those hampered them in creating jobs, Husted said. Now he says business leaders tell him they are not hiring because the workforce lacks the skills companies need or they have trouble “just finding somebody who can show up five days a week and pass a drug test.”
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