CINCINNATI (AP) — Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said Wednesday she won’t seek a third term, raising expectations that the Ohio Democrat will seek higher office.
Whaley made her announcement two days after criticizing Republican Gov. Mike DeWine for signing a “stand your ground” law. However, she told The Associated Press she had already made her decision about the 2021 election over the holidays.
When DeWine signed a gun rights bill Monday eliminating a duty to retreat before using force, Whaley said he caved to GOP extremists.
After the Aug. 4, 2019, mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon entertainment district that killed nine people and wounded at least two dozen more, she and DeWine had pledged to work together to change gun laws.
“Our state needs principled leaders who will stand up for what is right — not what is politically easy,” Whaley tweeted Monday.
“I feel like I’ve lost a partner in that work,” Whaley said Wednesday.
Whaley said she loves being mayor of Dayton, but noted that after two earlier terms on council, this will be her 16th year in city government. She’ll soon turn 45, and decided it was time to move on.
“I’m considering a number of things in the next few months, but I mean, I haven’t like put my finger on the scale quite yet on it,” she said. “I think you could definitely assume that I’m a state and local kind of person.”
She said believes a lot of people in her city and in other communities around Ohio are frustrated by the Republican-led state government. She didn’t indicate any interest in running for Congress; Ohio’s U.S. districts will be redrawn for 2022. DeWine, who lives in the neighboring county to Dayton, is up for reelection in 2022.
Whaley was pushed repeatedly into the national spotlight in 2019, which included a Ku Klux Klan rally in downtown Dayton and devastating tornadoes.
She had ended a 2018 bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, after being reelected mayor unopposed in 2017. She helped lead a push to get Ohio’s Democratic U.S. senator Sherrod Brown to run for president in 2020, which he decided against, and then endorsed fellow Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the Democratic race.