Nan Whaley campaign holds event in Steubenville
Gubernatorial candidate's campaign focusing outside “the three Cs”
STEUBENVILLE — Nan Whaley told a crowd of local union and Democrat Party officials that while Dayton, where she is mayor, and Steubenville may be far apart on the map, both feel overlooked by Columbus and have faced similar challenges.
Whaley, who declared her candidacy for the Democrat nomination in the 2022 race for Ohio Governor about two months ago, held a labor round table with local officials from area unions, the county Democratic Party and other entities Thursday afternoon inside the party headquarters on Fourth Street.
“We’re not as small as your town, but we get treated the same,” she said. “How local communities get treated is what drove me into this race.”
She detailed her personal background, telling the audience about her father’s history as a union iron worker and millwright, and called serving as Dayton’s mayor since 2014 “the honor of my life.”
“I came from labor, it’s a part of who I am,” Whaley said.
During her remarks, she touted her accomplishments as mayor of Dayton, including lowering the number of overdose deaths in the city, saying they were reduced by half.
She talked about leading the city through a series of tornadoes, a Klu Klux Klan rally and the aftermath of a mass shooting that left nine dead, all of which occurred in 2019.
She pointed out she stood up to former President Donald Trump about the need for increased regulations on guns in the aftermath of the fatal shootings, and also to former Gov. John Kasich, a Republican.
“I’ve never been one to turn away from issues,” she said.
Whaley, when asked by an audience member about concerns over police brutality, said, “George Floyd being murdered made us look at what we can do better (in Dayton),” noting more than 140 policy changes to policing are being implemented in the city.
She hammered Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who is seeking re-election next year, and GOP lawmakers in the state Legislature.
“Governor DeWine is too afraid to stand up to the extremists in his own party,” she said, telling the crowd one of the main reasons she got in the race is because “we deserve better in Ohio.”
“(Republicans) have had three decades (with a majority) and what have we seen? We’re getting farther and farther behind in Ohio,” she later added.
She blasted GOP lawmakers in the statehouse as corrupt, keying in on scandals surrounding embattled Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford).
One thing she said she wants to focus on if elected is making sure young Ohioans do not have to move to what she referred to as “the three Cs,” making reference to Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland, to have opportunities in their home state.
“It has to change,” she said, pointing out her campaign headquarters are in Dayton, not Columbus.
She also expressed support for a $15 an hour minimum wage.
“I know people who work two jobs and can’t make ends meet,” she said. “It’s un-American.”
Following the round table, when asked by the Herald-Star about reversing the trend of the county and region voting more and more for Republicans in recent election cycles, Whaley said she feels the shift was due to a feeling of being forgotten more than that of leaning towards a party.
She also feels there is frustration with the state government that her campaign focusing on areas like Jefferson County can tap in to.
“There’s a lot of discussion about Ohio being a red state or a blue state,” she said. “I don’t think that is what it is, I think it’s a frustrated state. I think what you’ve seen in the past couple cycles is people being tired of being forgotten and ignored. I get it, because they have been forgotten and ignored. They’ve also been forgotten and ignored by the Statehouse, and I think you’re starting to see that frustration, too.
“What we’re offering is a path to say, ‘Hey, if we invest in these communities, unlike (what) the Republicans have done the past three decades in the Statehouse, we can have a real opportunity here.’ I understand that feeling, we get that feeling a lot in Dayton, too. That’s the opportunity we have in this race is to say it doesn’t have to be this way, and that is what we’re trying to show.
“I’m running for Governor for places like Steubenville, coming from a city that feels the same way.”
In addition to Whaley, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said during an event last week he plans to seek the Democratic nomination, with a few other names also rumored to be interested.
On the Republican side, DeWine faces a growing number of primary challengers including Joe Blystone, a farmer from Canal Winchester; Jim Renacci, a former U.S. Rep and candidate for U.S. Senate who announced his candidacy just this week; and Adam Rogers, with several others either showing interest publicly or rumored to be mulling a run.
“There’s a big opportunity,” Whaley said of the contested primary field on the Republican side. “We can win this race if we talk about what is important to people and back it up with actions.”