2018 Ohio governor's race gets more 'official' with Mary Taylor: Ohio Politics Roundup

Taylor takes the plunge: Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor on Thursday filed paperwork forming a gubernatorial campaign committee, and a website, www.marytaylorforgovernor.com, cleveland.com's Henry J. Gomez writes. Gomez writes the two developments are the "surest...

2018 Ohio governor's race gets more 'official' with Mary Taylor: Ohio Politics Roundup

Taylor takes the plunge: Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor on Thursday filed paperwork forming a gubernatorial campaign committee, and a website, www.marytaylorforgovernor.com, cleveland.com's Henry J. Gomez writes.

Gomez writes the two developments are the "surest sign yet" that Taylor will run to replace current Gov. John Kasich, who is barred by state law from running for another term.

So what does it mean? Taylor now is allowed to "begin campaigning and raising money for what stands to be a tough Republican primary," Gomez writes.

But is it an official campaign launch? On the "officialness" scale, Thursday's developments definitely are more official than that time last August when Taylor tweeted her gubernatorial ambitions written on a chalkboard. (Shortly after, an aide denied the message marked her announcement.)

But it's less official than the "formal campaign kickoff" that Gomez reported Taylor plans later this year. (Taylor's campaign website promises "more to come.")

More 2018 "official" news: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine openly discussed running for governor on Wednesday during an event in north-central Ohio, according to the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum's Zach Tuggle.

"One of the reasons I'm running for governor is that I want to get in front of all this," DeWine said told a crowd of 100 at Wayside Christian School. (By "this," DeWine meant drugs and economic challenges, among other issues.)

However, Tuggle wrote, "DeWine is not yet an official contender for the office."

"I have thought about this for a long time," DeWine said Wednesday. "We will have an official announcement in the next few months."

It's official in Cincinnati: Mayor John Cranley may already have filed paperwork showing he's running for re-election. But on Thursday, he made his candidacy truly "official" with an event in the city's East Price Hill neighborhood, writes the Cincinnati Enquirer's Carl Weiser.

Elsewhere in semantics: U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci is now using the phrase "repeal and repair" to describe the possible outcome for the federal healthcare law known as Obamacare, cleveland.com's Jeremy Pelzer writes.

That's notably different from the "repeal and replace" rhetoric Renacci, who met with reporters in Columbus on Thursday, and other Republicans have employed for a while now. (The House GOP voted to repeal Obamacare in its entirety repeatedly before the November election.)

Parse Renacci's words for yourself: "I am hearing a lot of people that want to see it be repealed and repaired. Now, that's different from 'repeal and replace,' because they do like things that are there - whether it's preexisting conditions, whether it's the caps on individual illnesses, whether it's having their child on until they're 26. People love that - they don't like the cost."

Renacci, who's considering a run in 2018 for governor, also said he and other family members get their insurance through Obamacare, and he's seen costs go up.

On a related note: Former House Speaker John Boehner, who resigned from his Southwest Ohio congressional seat in late 2015, predicted Thursday that a full repeal and replace of Obamacare is "not going to happen," writes Politico's Darius Tahir.

From Tahir's account: "... Boehner said the talk in November about lightning-fast passage of a new health care framework was wildly optimistic.

'I started laughing,' he said. 'Republicans never ever agree on health care.'

'Most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act ... that's going to be there,' Boehner concluded."

Jim Jordan says no to ACA "repair": During a Thursday appearance on NPR's "Morning Edition," conservative Miami County Republican congressman addressed topics including healthcare and the ongoing progressive protests at GOP Congressional town halls.

But his statement on "repairing" Obamacare stands out. Here it is: "I'm for changing health care and changing health insurance and putting in a model that makes sense, a model that lowers cost. That's what I'm for doing. And what we told the voters very loudly and very clearly both in our district and I think Republicans across the country was we're for repealing it and replacing it. We're not for repairing it. We're not for tweaking it. We're not for saying if you like it you can keep it. What we said very clearly to the American people was let's repeal it. Let's replace it with a model that empowers them and empowers the market and brings down cost."

Jordan is the leader of the Freedom Caucus, a group of 32 very conservative House Republicans. Republicans control the House by 40+ seats, so GOP leadership could still get healthcare reform through even without the Freedom Caucus. But it won't be without complications.

Ohioans at CPAC: Cleveland.com's Sabrina Eaton camped out at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland on Friday. Here are some quotes she gathered from Buckeye State residents.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken. Blackwell, who served as an adviser to Trump's presidential transition: ""My theme is, let's get on the same page and move forward. To me, the danger is the procedural gamesmanship by the Democrats."

Portage County Tea Party activist Tom Zawistowski: "The people here are very fired up. Now there's a lot of optimism [compared to Obama years]. In other respects, it is not very different because people are here to learn how government works and to network with each other."

For good measure, cleveland.com's Stephen Koff breaks down everything else you need to know about CPAC.

Political left calls out Portman: Rob Portman was invited to a town hall meeting Thursday night in Cleveland by event hosts such as MoveOn.org and Indivisible. Not surprising, reports cleveland.com's Gomez, the Republican senator chose not to attend.

"The evening offered a peek into the discontent brewing in the early days of President Donald Trump's administration. Indivisible and other groups are calling on members of Congress to oppose -- or 'resist,' to use the phrase the movement's followers prefer -- Trump's agenda," writes Gomez.

Husted blocks Democratic appointment to county elections board: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Thursday vetoed the re-appointment of a Democratic Erie County Board of Elections member, writes the Sandusky Register's Andy Ouriel.

In a letter, Husted cited Amy Grubbe's "disruptive" behavior and said she "appears to lack the basic ability to get along with co-workers." (Ouriel's story further documents Grubbe's quarrels with elections workers and fellow board members.)

While the Erie County Democratic Party recommended reappointing Grubbe, who had been on the board since 2006, a Democratic county commissioner joined a Republican colleague in asking Husted to block the move.

Spicey: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will headline a March 1 fundraiser for Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose, I reported on Thursday.

LaRose is viewed as a likely 2018 candidate for Husted, who is term-limited.

Question for readers: Can you think of past sitting press secretaries doing anything similar?

Huffman proposes ending prevailing wage requirements: State Sen. Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, has introduced a bill that would allow local governments to pay less than prevailing wages on public construction projects, cleveland.com's Jackie Borchardt writes.

"Each of the local jurisdictions should be able to decide what they pay for what they're going to get," Huffman said in an interview. "When the city of Lima goes to buy paper products, they don't have to pay what the city of Cincinnati pays. They pay what the market bears." 

The Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio, which represents the skilled trades, opposes the proposal.

Blast from the past: Former Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts Andrea Rocco is facing a roadblock in her effort to be elected law director in Westlake, the Cleveland suburb, writes cleveland.com's Karen Farkas.

Four city residents filed a written protest saying that Westlake's charter requires someone to have practiced law for six years preceding an election to be eligible to run for law director.

"Those filing protests say Rocco's tenure as Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts in 2013 and 2014 disqualified her from running for office because she was not practicing law at that time."

On today's agenda: Ohio Gov. John Kasich will meet with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. today. A likely topic of conversation? The fate of federal funding for Medicaid expansion in Ohio and other states, reports Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles.

Greg Moody, a top Kasich administration official, told Ingles that Kasich wants Trump to make sure states continue to get federal funding to pay for expanded Medicaid eligibility that was a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

"So far, everything we have seen is an abrupt stop of the enhanced match, which for Ohio would mean coming up with $1.5 billion," Moody said.

Kasich and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are among the handful of Republican governors advising Congressional Republicans on what to do with the 31 million people who received health insurance through Medicaid expansion, reports CNN's Manu Raju.

Also happening today: The Ohio Republican Party's central committee will meet in Columbus at 10 a.m. to resolve a strange situation with the Trumbull County Republican Party.

As you may recall, there are two factions that claim to be the legitimate leaders of the county party -- one backs Randy Law, the current/former chairman who some party members voted to remove earlier this year, and another that tried to remove Law and that now backs another candidate, Kevin Wyndham.

Finally: Our Ohio Gobahis Matters series will continue today with a look at Vinton County and suburban Franklin County. On Thursday, cleveland.com's Mary Kilpatrick gave the political lay of the land in conservative, rural Seneca County, while Pelzer gave the lowdown in Greene County, the home of the bulk of the massive Wright Patterson Air Force Base. We've previously taken a close look at urban Cleveland and post-industrial Jefferson County, and we've spoken to dozens of everyday voters along the way.

More about 'Ohio Matters': My colleagues and I have set out to six different Ohio regions -- including some places we don't cover very much -- to try and figure out how Ohioans of different political stripes are feeling.

The impetus was the possible political realignment triggered in 2016 by Trump's candidacy. Among other things, we're hoping to learn whether Trump's huge electoral gains in Eastern Ohio are permanent, or a temporary effect of Trump's one-of-a-kind persona. It's also an exploration of Ohio's diversity, and an examination of the urban/suburban/rural divide.

Finally, we want to know what issues Ohioans care about, so we can describe how policies coming down from Washington D.C. will affect people in their daily lives. This will be a greater focus of ours in future stories.

Speaking as someone who talks to politicians and political professionals for a living, it's been refreshing to connect with what journalists jokingly call "real people" -- i.e.: people who don't work in politics -- and meeting them where they live and work. It's also helped me better understand Trump's appeal, which I and many other political observers vastly underestimated.

Click here to watch a video trailer for the series, and click here to see everything we've done.

Get Battleground Briefing, our FREE politics newsletter, delivered to your inbox: Sign up here. Tips or links? Send here. Follow along on Twitter: @andrewjtobias

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