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2 Dems seek governor’s seat

While Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley Qare political allies and friends, they stand in each other’s way of achieving their shared goal: getting elected governor next year.

The race between the two Democrats has been cordial so far, but the possibility of it turning into something else exists.

Whaley was first to announce her candidacy April 19, but both she and Cranley had been moving in that direction for several months prior.

When Whaley announced, I asked her about Cranley.

She said: “We have very different leadership styles. That will all be fine. I’m not worried about it.”

Cranley has said basically the same thing.

Whaley quickly accumulated numerous endorsements, including a majority of Democratic state legislators and a number of pro-Democratic organizations and unions.

She later got the backing of the mayors of Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Akron.

Whaley reported on her semiannual campaign finance report that she raised $1.64 million in the first half of the year. After spending about $479,000 during the same six months and including money she had in her account before the start of 2021, she had $1.37 million cash on hand as of June 30.

Cranley waited until Aug. 10 to make an official announcement about his candidacy.

But all the while he also was raising money and collecting endorsements.

Cranley received $1.07 million in contributions in the first half of the year. He spent about $204,000 in the first six months of the year — less than half of what Whaley spent. With money he had before 2021, he had $1.31 million in his account as of June 30.

Cranley doesn’t have the number of endorsements that Whaley has and is taking a different approach to that process.

Cranley’s campaign is focusing on getting the endorsements of religious and civil rights leaders with the belief that typical voters know their pastors a lot more than they know their state representative or city council member.

Of course, Cranley also has received the support of elected officials and Democratic leaders, including quite a few in the Mahoning Valley.

And he’s committed to his platform.

“I am the only candidate running with a detailed plan to bring our state back,” Cranley said when he announced his campaign. “Talk is cheap.”

Just last week, Cranley challenged Whaley to start debating him next month.

“A series of debates in which Mayor Whaley and I can share our vision for Ohio’s future and our records in our respective cities will help ensure voters have the information they need to make a good choice next spring,” Cranley said.

John Hagner, Whaley’s campaign manager, said debates should wait until after the Feb. 2, 2022, filing deadline.

“Nan looks forward to sharing her vision for why Ohio deserves better in debates next year once we know what the full field looks like,” Hagner said. “Right now, she is focused on meeting voters in person across the state and supporting Democrats” who “are up for election next month.”

The winner of the Democratic primary faces an uphill climb against Gov. Mike DeWine, assuming he wins the Republican Party’s nomination next year.

DeWine enjoyed popularity with Democrats during the first year-plus of the COVID-19 pandemic while members of the Republican Party continue strongly to criticize how he’s handled the issue.

DeWine raised $3.09 million in the first half of this year and with carryover from his previous campaigns, he had $6.58 million in his account as of June 30.

He could get a scare in the Republican primary, but I expect him to emerge as the winner.

I’ve spoken to several local Republicans who dislike DeWine and are backing his challengers: former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and Joe Blystone, a farmer originally from East Liverpool.

If DeWine were somehow to lose the Republican primary, it would make it significantly easier for the Democratic nominee to win next year’s general election.

Since the 1990 election, Republicans have won seven gubernatorial races in Ohio to one for Democrats.

Skolnick covers politics for The Vindicator and the Tribune Chronicle.

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