Surprise twist as new candidate joins Ohio governor’s race

By Julie Carr Smyth - Associated Press

COLUMBUS (AP) — A former infantry field surgeon-turned-venture capitalist who has made an 11th-hour entry into Ohio’s crowded governor’s race said Thursday his first foray into politics is a reaction to Republican President Donald Trump.

Jon Heavey, 42, of suburban Cleveland, was among the 2018 candidates who filed petitions by Wednesday’s deadline.

He’s among eight Democrats now officially running to succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich, who’s term-limited. They include former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, ex-state lawmaker Connie Pillich and former Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

The Republican primary will be between Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

Taylor says she would not support DeWine for governor in Ohio’s general election if he prevails in their race for the Republican nomination.

Taylor told Scott Spears in an interview on WWGH-FM radio Thursday that DeWine and his running mate, Secretary of State Jon Husted, are “the career politician status quo establishment ticket” and she considers them “out of touch.”

DeWine’s campaign spokesman said it’s unfortunate Taylor has resorted to “wild and desperate attacks.”

Taylor’s comments come in an increasingly bitter Republican contest to succeed GOP Gov. John Kasich.

Taylor has distanced herself publicly from Kasich. She issued an open letter on Wednesday to the Republican State Central Committee urging against picking sides in favor of DeWine at the panel’s meeting Friday.

Heavey has seeded his campaign with $1.5 million of his own money, but he said he’s been assembling a campaign operation and developing some “new approaches” to fundraising for about a year.

With degrees in medicine from Vanderbilt University and business administration from Yale, Heavey said he is uniquely positioned as an outsider candidate to take on Ohio’s most pressing issues. But emotion plays a role.

“I’m supposed to tell you I’m here to grow jobs and fix health care and alleviate the opioid crisis, and I do intend to focus on all of those things, but, truth be told for my motivation, I’m angry,” he said. “I’m upset with Trump, and I have an Irish demeanor and so thoughts become action, so that’s why I’m running.”

The Buffalo native said he didn’t take lightly investing $1.5 million in his wildcard gubernatorial bid.

“I’ve got a blue-collar background. I drive a Toyota Yaris with 125,000 miles on it, and I’m proud of that,” he said. “But I wanted to show that I’m serious.”

Heavey is participating in one several primaries that were set by Wednesday’s filings. Ohio also will see primaries for state auditor and state treasurer — and a five-way contest is now in the offing among Republicans seeking the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Sherrod Brown.

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci is backed by Trump, with Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons another serious contender. Brown is unopposed in the primary.

Democrats have fielded candidates for all 99 Ohio House races. Republicans say many of the contenders lost to GOP candidates previously.

By Julie Carr Smyth

Associated Press