Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, said the reason he’s running for governor of Ohio is because he wants to move the state forward.
“Ohio has fallen behind,” said Renacci, a longtime businessman who’s now serving his fourth term representing Ohio’s 16th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He cited statistics from United Van Lines’ “Most Moved From States” list which shows Ohio was the seventh most moved-from state in 2017, with 56 percent of moves being out of state. Renacci also pointed to the opioid addiction crisis, student loan debt, and a poor climate for business as major issues that the next governor needs to address in earnest.
“If you’re happy with all that, continue to elect the career politicians you’ve been electing,” he said. “But if you want to see a state that I saw 34 years ago when I came here as a young kid, with nothing, and was able to live the American dream, I’d love for you to get to know me and what I want to do.”
Renacci faces Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Attorney General Mike DeWine in the Republican primary on May 8. The deadline for candidates to file for the 2018 gubernatorial election is Feb. 7.
After apparently failing to generate any traction with voters, Secretary of State Jon Husted dropped out of the gubernatorial race before Christmas, opting instead to join forces with DeWine as the AG’s lieutenant governor candidate.
Renacci said as governor he would directly address the issues of Ohio residents and businesses moving out of state.
“We are losing population. We are losing revenue growth,” he said. “People are leaving, yet our expenses are going up. … We’ve got to freeze our expenses. We’re losing the revenue base and the people. … The next thing I want to do is go to the revenue side and take a look at the businesses that are here and find out what it would take for them to grow and prosper. And some of them that are leaving or have left, how do I get them back? I want to encourage business growth.”
Regarding the opioid addiction crisis, Renacci said he has formed a panel to learn about the issues related to addiction, treatment, and recovery.
“They’re opioid addicts who’ve recovered. They’re parents who’ve lost their children to opioid addiction, and they’re recovery centers,” he said. “Here’s what I’ve learned in talking to them: many of these addicts started in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, realizing they didn’t want to go to college, being told they were useless — we’ve got to start changing that around.”
Renacci suggested that part of the education process for those at risk for drug use needs to include showing them alternate “paths” besides college. He said he would like to see businesses and high schools form partnerships to provide evening training courses during the so-called “golden hours” between 3 and 8 p.m. He said members of his opioid panel have told him that’s when young people are most vulnerable to drug dealers.
Stiffer penalties for drug dealers is another proposal Renacci said he would pursue if elected governor. He also said he wants to see a reduction in the amount of opioids prescribed by physicians.
Renacci’s running mate for lieutenant governor is Amy Murray, a Cincinnati city council member.
The Democratic side of the governor’s race is a crowded house with seven candidates now running. Former U.S Rep. Dennis Kucinich filed paperwork on Monday, joining former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, former State Rep. Connie Pillich, State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, former U.S Rep. Betty Sutton, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in the race.
Columbus attorney Constance Gadell Newton is the Green Party candidate.
Collin Hill, a student at Ohio University-Chillicothe, is running as an independent.