Hours after Republicans Mike DeWine and Jon Husted announced they were forming an Ohio political superteam of sorts and would run for governor on the same ticket, their opponents painted themselves as outsiders and vowed to stay in the race.
DeWine and Husted appeared together in two different places on the same day to announce their team, first in the Dayton area and later in Columbus. They said they would focus on jobs, education and the opioid crisis on day one, but DeWine won't say what part Husted would play if elected.
"I can guarantee you that Jon Husted will have a major role in this administration," DeWine said. "But I'm not, we are not ready to talk about that yet today."
DeWine and Husted have been garnering a lot of support from key Republicans and groups throughout the state. Putting them together on one ticket potentially brings together that support. It also has the potential to hurt the two remaining candidates on the GOP ticket.
But Husted says he doesn’t see this as a heavy handed move that might be rejected by voters. He says it was a way to avoid a costly primary that would leave him and Dewine, in his words, "bruised and broken." And he says the teamwork demonstrates characteristics voters want.
“We’re focused on trying to solve problems and work together," Husted said. "That’s not only good for Ohio but it’s also a good campaign strategy because that’s what people want. They want us to govern. They want us to lead.”
In a Thursday afternoon press conference, Lt. Governor Mary Taylor seemed to align herself with President Trump, while saying the DeWine-Husted ticket was "great news for the political consultants and lobbyists."
“Last year, Ohio overwhelmingly elected Donald Trump because Ohioans are sick and tired as politics as usual,” Taylor said.
The announcement from Taylor, who was first elected to the Ohio House in 2002, was similar to that of Rep. Jim Renacci, an early Trump supporter who also said he was staying in the race. Despite their resumes, both seem to be running as outsiders.
"The people of Ohio are tired of career politicians taking this state in the direction they are taking it," Renacci said. "They don’t want to just re-elect people who have been there for 60 years.”
Renacci is a millionaire businessman who rode a Tea Party wave into Congress in 2010. He and Taylor will each face a DeWine-Husted team that now has a combined war chest of about $9 million. Taylor especially has been trailing badly in fundraising, with less than a half a million dollars at last report.
But Renacci says it’s not about money.
“If it was about money, Jeb Bush would have been our Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton would have been president,” Renacci said.
At Taylor’s press conference, she was asked about the possibility of her and Renacci running on the same ticket.
“As a team, we are still having a conversation internally with what we believe is going to be the best solution, and honestly I’m really looking for somebody who has the passion to serve, who shares my passion and who shares my values," Taylor said.
The Democratic side is just as crowded. It already includes former Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich, former Congresswoman Betty Sutton, Ohio Rep. Joe Schiavoni, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
They could be joined by Richard Cordray, the former head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray, also a former Ohio attorney general, resigned his position at the CFPB two weeks ago, but the Democrat has not said whether he'll run for governor.
Democrat candidates are scheduled to hold their second debate Monday in Cleveland.