Rich Cordray and Mike DeWine are both making the only statewide issue on the fall ballot a major topic of their campaigns to become governor. This puts an even bigger spotlight on the measure that would scale down prison time for non-violent drug offenders.
Issue 1 is touted as a way to send more people with substance abuse disorders to treatment rather than prison. But opponents say reducing sentencing disincentivizes treatment. And it’s increasingly becoming a partisan issue among candidates, with DeWine opposing it and Cordray supporting it.
Dennis Willard with the “Yes on Issue 1” campaign says the additional spotlight from the governor’s race raises awareness for voters.
“We believe that the more voters learn about a yes vote on Issue 1, the more they’ll support it. We know that there’s a raging epidemic going on in our community that’s going unaddressed,” says Willard.
But opponents of Issue 1 claim they have the advantage, saying once Ohioans read the language they’ll realize it’s a step backwards in fighting the opioid crisis.
“We’re very confident, if they look at it and they read it, and they see what they’re making a decision on, that they will vote no," says David Myhal with the “No on Issue 1” campaign.
While Republican candidates are lining up against the measure and Democrats are supporting it, both groups say their Issue 1 coalitions are nonpartisan.