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Kucinich enters governor’s race with call to “reclaim” the state and bring back Democrats who voted for Trump

Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich told local Democrats that it is time to reclaim Ohio and start spending state resources on things that help everyone rather than tax cuts for the wealthy.

“I’m in the position to get in the game and say, ‘Look, this changes. We have to be fair to all Ohioans,’” said Kucinich, speaking to the South Dayton Democratic Club on Wednesday after announcing he is running for governor in the Democratic primary.

“We can’t meet our health care needs, our education needs, we cannot rebuild this state if all we’re doing is taking resources of the state and giving it to a select few that already is very wealthy.”

Kucinich, a former mayor of Cleveland, announced he would join the already-crowded Democratic field during a Wednesday rally at Middleburg Heights in Cuyahoga County.

He pledged to focus on fighting poverty and violence and to promote economic opportunity the arts and education, according to the Associated Press.

Later he traveled to Columbus and then spoke to the South Dayton Democratic Club at the West Carrollton branch of the Dayton Metro Library. 

Kucinich outlined his plans to raise the minimum wage, improve infrastructure and establish a non-profit broadband internet public utility.

“I could win this election. I may be the only Democrat who can win because I have the ability to reach out, because I don’t polarize. Because I know the aspirations of people without regard to party,” Kucinich said during an interview after he spoke to Democrats at the West Carrollton branch of the Dayton Metro Library.

Kucinich, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004 and 2008, believes he can bring Democrats who voted for President Donald Trump back to the fold.

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Kucinich says he can win race for governor

RELATED: Ex-Congressman Dennis Kucinich to launch bid for governor

“When I look at my own congressional district the Democrats who went for Trump were concerned about trade, were concerned about war, were concerned about corruption in the government and the Democratic Party lost them. I can reach back to them and bring them back,” Kucinich said.

Democratic candidate Connie Pillich welcomes Kucinich to the race, said Eric Goldman, campaign manager for Pillich, a former state representative from Cincinnati.

“With that said, there is nothing in Kucinich's record that would demonstrate an appeal to Trump voters, swing voters, or disaffected Republicans,” Goldman said. “The Connie Pillich-Scott Schertzer team is the only Democratic ticket in this primary that has a history of appealing to voters from across the aisle and a track record of winning tough campaigns.”

Kucinich, 71, lost his congressional seat in 2012 to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, after the Republican redistricting of 2011 put the two Democrats in the same district. He enters the governor’s race relatively late but has been traveling the state over the last year denouncing public funding for charter schools and in support of state Issue 2, the prescription drug ballot issue that failed in November.

RELATED: Kucinich goes after charter schools in Dayton area visit

With the Feb. 7 filing deadline for the May 8 primary approaching, the Democratic and Republican fields are solidifying.

Last week Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley withdrew from the Democratic primary and threw her support behind Richard Cordray, former director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a former Ohio treasurer and attorney general. Cordray’s running mate is former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron.

Richard Cordray and Betty Sutton

RELATED: Dayton Mayor Whaley drops out of governor’s race

Also in the race are Pillich of  Cincinnati, and her running mate and Marion mayor, Schertzer; state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, who is running with Ohio Board of Education member Stephanie Dodd; and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, whose running mate is Chantelle E. Lewis, a Lorain elementary school principal.

RELATED: O’Neill’s boast of sexual liaisons brings calls for his resignation

Mike DeWine and Jon Husted

The ballot is less crowded on the Republican side where Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his running mate, Secretary of State Jon Husted, are opposed by Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and running mate Nathan Estruth, a Cincinnati businessman.

“We welcome Mr. Kucinich to the race. Our campaign looks forward to taking on whichever Democrat emerges from their crowded primary,” said Ryan Stubenrauch, campaign spokesperson for DeWine/Husted. “Mike DeWine and Jon Husted have the vision and plan to lead Ohio boldly into the future bringing more high-paying jobs, solving the opioid crisis and securing economic prosperity for all of Ohio.”

See more stories by Lynn Hulsey

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