Call us old fashioned, but we like it better when voters get to choose.
We were looking forward to May, when Republicans in Ohio would pick between different visions for the state. We wanted to see who they’d pick to lead not just the state but essentially the party for the next four years as governor.
So you’ll have to excuse us if we’re not shrieking with excitement over Thursday’s bombshell announcement that the two likely front runners for the GOP’s nomination for governor, Mike DeWine and Jon Husted, announced they were joining forces and forming a ticket.
Sure, they’re a formidable pair. DeWine, 70, the top of the new ticket, has held just about every position in government you can think of short of dog catcher (which isn’t actually an elected position here). Voters elected him as county prosecutor, U.S. congressman, lieutenant governor, U.S. senator and now attorney general. His campaign had $4.7 million in the bank in the July reporting period.
Husted, 50, sure looks like a rising star in the party. He won seats in the Ohio House, where he was the speaker, before becoming a state senator and now secretary of state, overseeing voting and business filings. Husted was No. 2 in campaign finances through November, at $4.2 million in July. And back in May, when he announced his run with a YouTube video, he said it was "time for new ideas and a new generation of leadership."
The dynamic duo said Thursday they have a shared vision and common goals. They said they agree the top two issues in the state are fighting the opioid epidemic and making sure Ohioans are "career or college ready" out of high school.
They now have that estimated $8.9 million in combined campaign funds, far ahead of their Republican challengers, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci ($576,093 plus a $4 million personal loan from Renacci) and current Lt. Gov Mary Taylor ($436,883 on hand in July). Both Renacci and Taylor committed to staying in the race Thursday.
Husted said he accepted the offer to become a running mate to help heal the party.
“As I campaigned across Ohio, I would constantly hear from Republicans who were tired of all the fighting,” Husted said Thursday. “They wondered why we just couldn’t work things out and work together because were all supposed to be serving them."
That's where we have to disagree with him. We believe the healthiest thing for the party — every party — is to have a diverse slate of candidates who challenge each other to bring forth the best possible ideas. Then the candidate with the best slate of ideas should win the primary election and earn the right to run against the Democrats in November.
This serves the public best, not surprise announcements six months before the election that two of the likely most popular candidates joined forces.
We suspect the real reason is fear of the Democratic side of the ticket. The expected addition of former Ohio attorney general and state treasurer Richard Cordray, who recently served as the head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, offers a formidable foe on the other side of the aisle.
Still, we urge the remaining candidates on both sides of the aisle to stay strong and commit to presenting a powerful case for why they deserve to be Ohio’s governor. We agree we don’t want fighting, but we welcome ideological dialogue that shows why one of them deserves to lead our state and has the right plan to do it.