Elections chief joins 2018 race

Published 12:07 pm Monday, May 8, 2017

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announces he will run for governor

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted entered the race for governor Sunday, positioning himself in an announcement ad as a pro-gun, pro-family values conservative.

Capitalizing on divisive remarks that came back to haunt high-profile Democrats, the Republican says Barack Obama was right when he said Midwesterners cling to religion and guns and that Husted’s family “would firmly fit in Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables.’” Clinton used the reference in her presidential campaign against Donald Trump, whom Husted voted for.

Husted becomes the second Republican to formally join the 2018 gubernatorial field in what is expected to be a crowded race to replace GOP Gov. John Kasich, who’s term-limited.

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Husted, 49, is a former state senator and Ohio House speaker. He’s in his second term as the battleground state’s elections chief. It’s a political hot seat nationally that’s seen Husted buffeted between criticism by voting rights advocates and by a fellow Republican president.

Husted instituted uniform statewide voting hours in 2012, for example, a move Democrats opposed as reducing the number of hours that had been available during the high-turnout 2008 presidential election. Husted argued the edict brought fairness and equal treatment to all the state’s voters.

When Trump alleged vote rigging in last year’s election, Husted strongly objected — assuring voters Ohio’s system was fair, safe and bipartisan.

Husted highlighted his opposition to abortion, which he traces to being adopted, his A-plus rating with the National Rifle Association and his role as speaker overseeing passage of one of the state’s leanest recent budgets.

Husted joins U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, of Wadsworth, in seeking the Republican nomination. Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor — are preparing to join the race.