Capital News: And so begins the 2014 campaigns for Ohio statewide office

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published:

Columbus -- Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald has made it official: The Democrat will challenge Gov. John Kasich in next year's gubernatorial race.

He did so through a "big announcement," though that's a stretch, since most people already knew he was running. FitzGerald earlier announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider the race, but that was just a formality.

Yes, it's early, but candidates need lots of time to raise money for what will be a heated campaign as minority Democrats attempt to wrest control of the Ohio Statehouse from majority Republicans.

Plus, FitzGerald could face primary competition from former Attorney General Richard Cordray, whose name continues to circulate among rumored Kasich opponents.

Kudos to FitzGerald for getting out of the gate now and ending speculation about his intentions.

Kudos, also, to David Pepper, the former Cincinnati city councilman and county commissioner who also has made his 2014 intentions clear. He wants to challenge Mike DeWine for attorney general after an unsuccessful run at auditor in 2010, and he's officially declared his candidacy.

That leaves three other statewide offices and three other Democrats who anyone not living under a rock already knows are running.

State Sen. Nina Turner's intentions seem evident. Her campaign is funding a website that purportedly seeks to convince her to run against Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Did you catch that? Her own campaign has an online presence urging Turner to "Run, Nina, Run" (online at www.RunNinaRun.org). "Ohio wants Nina to run!" the front page of the site proclaims. That's sort of like my 7-year-old handing me a drawing, created by his own hands, with the words, "Ohio wants Emil to have more Legos!"

For her part, Turner has confirmed she is considering a run. She's also been outspoken in her criticism of the way Husted handled the last election, voicing particular concern that valid ballots were improperly tossed or eligible voters were improperly turned away from polling places.

State Rep. John Carney, from Columbus, likewise, is the expected Democratic nominee for state auditor, though he has made no formal declaration of his intentions.

But he has sent a number of press releases that include mention of incumbent Auditor Dave Yost and his review of JobsOhio, the private nonprofit that's heading the state's economic development efforts.

State Rep. Connie Pillich, from Cincinnati, meanwhile, is the rumored Democratic candidate who will face Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel.

Earlier this year, she introduced legislation that would require bipartisan appointments to head the state Inspector General's Office, which investigates wrongdoing among state agencies.

It would be nice if Turner, Carney and Pillich would just declare their election intentions now, particularly if they're attaching their names to fund-raising emails or holding press conferences to trash the incumbents.

Because it's been at least six months since we've been inundated with campaign mailings and campaign commercials and campaign robo-calls, and voters probably are feeling neglected.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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