(John Kuntz, cleveland.com)
Connie Pillich walks the walk and talks the talk. Dennis Kucinich weighs in on “extracurricular surveillance.” And Wes Retherford posts bond. Read more in Ohio Politics Roundup.
The underappreciated Connie Pillich: Until Monday, it had been too easy to forget Connie Pillich in the jumble of Democratic prospects for governor. And this had been perplexing — especially so, if you’re Pillich — for at least two reasons. For starters, Pillich essentially was the first Democrat to the starting line. Word trickled out nearly a year ago that the former state representative from the Cincinnati area was sounding out support for her campaign.
Beyond that, Pillich is one of few possible Democratic contenders who has statewide name-recognition. She ran, albeit unsuccessfully, for state treasurer in 2014. She earned deep admiration from party activists for taking on Republican incumbent Josh Mandel.
And when annual campaign finance reports were revealed in January, Pillich had $425,000 on hand. It was a respectable amount of cash, if not quite a scare-away-all-rivals amount.
Here’s the ‘but’: Ohio Democrats would very much like to forget about 2014, which through no fault of Pillich’s was a disastrous year for them at the ballot box. Many had been fixated on former Attorney General Richard Cordray and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of the Youngstown area.
But Ryan, in a move predictable for those who have followed his career, decided to stay put. Cordray remains unavailable as long as he leads the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Meanwhile, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni jumped into the race quickly, the better to attempt to consolidate Ryan’s support in the Mahoning Valley. And speculation shifted to two other Democrats: former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
Sutton, fresh off a federal appointment, declared her candidacy last week. She is a throwback to happier times for Ohio Democrats, before Republicans drew Sutton out of a congressional seat. Many Democratic insiders privately believe she will be their strongest candidate. Whaley, who is unopposed in her re-election bid this year, is very serious about 2018. She has lots of upside.
Did Pillich peak too early? She has time to reassert herself. Her Monday announcement included a thematic and well-produced walk-and-talk that would make Aaron Sorkin proud. (Our Andrew J. Tobias offered another pop culture allusion — to an iconic music video from the 1990s.) And her “We as Democrats have got to reclaim our status as patriots” line was instantly memorable. What Pillich has going for her, one Democratic insider told me, is confidence.
The Schiavoni Launch, Take 2 (or 3): Schiavoni declared himself a candidate within minutes of Ryan removing himself from contention two weeks ago and sent an official news release the following morning. On Monday, he held a kickoff rally in his hometown of Boardman.
As for other Democrats to keep an eye on … here’s something you might have missed from Dennis Kucinich. The former Cleveland mayor and former congressman, who is believed to be considering a run for governor, is offering a personal testimonial about wiretapping.
“President Trump’s assertion that his phones at Trump Tower were tapped last year has been treated as hilarious — and in some circles as beyond contempt,” he writes at FoxNews.com.
“But I can vouch for the fact that extracurricular surveillance does occur, regardless of whether it is officially approved,” Kucinich, a Fox News contributor, adds. “I…