LIMA — Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley hopes voters are paying attention to corruption in Columbus.
Whaley released an anti-corruption plan when she announced her campaign for governor last year, calling for the creation of a public accountability commission, better funding for government ethics agencies and an end to dark money loopholes for political spending in the aftermath of the FirstEnergy statehouse bribery scandal that cost former House Speaker Larry Householder his seat.
She’s been reminding voters of the scandal on the campaign trail ever since, claiming lawmakers have prioritized the interests of donors at the expense of constituents for decades.
“These guys who have been in charge for three decades, they’re all about taking care of their big donors and rich friends, sucking money out of our communities and our pockets,” Whaley told supporters in Lima on Thursday.
“And they don’t think anybody cares. But what we’re going to do this year is show them that we care; that we want them to be invested in our communities.”
Whaley addressed the Allen County Women’s Luncheon at Western Sizzlin’ 19 days before Ohio’s gubernatorial primary election, which will determine whether she or former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley will appear on the Democratic ticket during the general election in November.
Whaley could become Ohio’s first elected female governor, following Nancy Hollister’s brief 11-day stint as governor in 1999.
The historic nature of her campaign could be an asset too, as Whaley said a 2018 report found Ohio Democrats were underperforming with women voters when compared to Democratic candidates in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“Having a woman on the ticket for the governor’s seat, at the top of the ticket, gives us a huge opportunity to bring more people to our party,” she said.
Still, Democrats are waiting to see whether the redistricting process produces legislative districts competitive enough to end the Republican supermajority in the statehouse, which could stall a Democratic governor’s agenda.
“If we get fair districts,” Whaley said, “I think we’ll get out of our super-minority, and then we’ll have the opportunity to get some real work done. If not, the governor is very powerful and stops bad things from happening, so instead of Mike DeWine, who’s too weak to stand up to the extremists in his party, we’d be able to do that.”