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Cordray, Taylor And O'Neill Pick Running Mates As Ohio Governor Race Heats Up

Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor
Dake Kang
Associated Press
Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor speaks at the City Club of Cleveland on July 7, 2017.

As the Ohio governor's race heats up, candidates on both the Democratic and Republican sides are teaming up in hopes of standing out in crowded primary fields. Democrats Richard Cordray and Bill O'Neill and Republican Mary Taylor all planned to announce their running mates this week.

Cordray And Sutton

Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is joining forces with former Congresswoman and Obama-era official Betty Sutton. Cordray announced his lieutenant governor pick on Wednesday.

Sutton had entered the governor's race herself, back in March. She served in the Ohio House and represented Northeast Ohio in Congress for three terms, and sponsored the "Cash for Clunkers" program as part of the auto rescue package.

After the Republican legislature redrew Congressional districts in 2010, Sutton lost her seat to Rep. Jim Renacci, another current governor candidate. President Obama then appointed her to run the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. 

Taylor And Estruth

Among Republicans, the team of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted seemed to pave a clear way to the nomination, but current Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said she’s staying in the race. On Wednesday, sources tell Ohio Public Radio that Taylor will announce Cincinnati-area businessman Nathan Estruth as her running mate.

Estruth is the president and chief executive officer of a Cincinnati injection molding company, and a former executive with Procter and Gamble. Estruth, a conservative, supported former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in his 2006 campaign for governor, and ran advertising critical of Ted Strickland, the Democrat who won that race.

Estruth also served as a seven-year board member of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that promotes itself as protecting Christian values. The Ohio Democratic Party notes, though, that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated that a hate group.

"The Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society," the SPLC reports.

O'Neill And Lewis

Not to be outdone, O'Neill - the only Democrat serving as an Ohio Supreme Court justice - announced Tuesday that he selected Chantelle Lewis, a former East Cleveland council and school board member and now an elementary school principal in Lorain, as his running mate. He says his lieutenant governor pick provides diversity to the ticket.

“The three factors I was looking for was someone of color and a female and from the education community," O'Neill said. 

O’Neill says reforming Ohio’s education system will be a major part of his platform. He says he will step down from the court later this month, though some Republican lawmakers said last year they might make an effort to remove him sooner.

Who's Left?

Currently, Dayton mayor Nan Whaley and former state Rep. Connie Pillich are the only governor candidates who haven't announced running mates. State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, a Democrat, chose Ohio Board of Education member Stephanie Dodd as his lieutenant governor. Renacci, a Republican, is running with Cincinnati City Council member Amy Murray.

If that's not enough contenders, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich recently indicated he may enter the governor race as a Democrat as well.