COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Democratic state lawmaker from Columbus launched a bid Tuesday to unseat Ohio Auditor Dave Yost next year, rounding out the Democrats' 2014 lineup as the party seeks to unseat Republicans who hold every statewide office.
Third-term state Rep. John Patrick Carney made the announcement Tuesday at a packed firefighters' union hall in downtown Columbus, signaling the importance of labor unions in next year's contest. It will be the first statewide election since sweeping collective bargaining limits were passed by the Republican-led Legislature, then rejected by Ohio voters.
Carney, 37, has been an outspoken opponent of the agenda of Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his fellow Republicans, including the unions limits and tax code changes.
"These sorts of trickle-down, tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy policies have never been particularly good for America," he said. "It undermines our ability to support basic services that our communities rely on — whether it be fire protection or police protection, local schools, sanitation. Those are the things that have made America great because you have strong communities people want to live in."
Carney is a lawyer at Porter, Wright, Morris and Arthur LLP, counseling clients on health care issues. His wife, Jennifer Nelson Carney, is an attorney at Bricker & Eckler. He sits on the powerful House Finance Committee and is the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Insurance Committee.
Yost, elected in 2010, has at times taken on his own party, including subpoenaing the financial records of Kasich's privatized job-creation entity, JobsOhio. He is a former journalist and prosecutor who surprised political prognosticators three years ago with his victory over David Pepper, a well-funded attorney from Cincinnati whose father is the former CEO of Procter & Gamble.
Carney said he is waiting for the results of Yost's audit of JobsOhio.
"If I was in that office, I would have completed the audit in a more timely manner and made sure I had all the information to give a full accounting to the public. I don't think that's happened today, and it's discouraging," Carney said.
The Ohio Republican Party criticized Carney for targeting alleged corruption and secrecy within the Kasich administration after casting a positive vote to seat former Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce among fellow House Democrats. Public documents have revealed Boyce knew at the time he took the House seat that his top deputy was under federal investigation. The ex-aide has since been charged with multiple counts in an alleged bribery scheme.
Carney called the GOP's criticism one of the "ridiculous statements coming out of the GOP because they don't want to have an evidence-based conversation about anything they're working on."
His announcement completes the Democrats' 2014 ticket. It is led by Kasich challenger Ed FitzGerald, of Cleveland, the Cuyahoga County executive and a former assistant prosecutor and FBI agent. Pepper is making a bid to unseat Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Facing Secretary of State Jon Husted is state Sen. Nina Turner, of Cleveland, and Cincinnati-area state Rep. Connie Pillich is running against Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Carney's run brings the first central Ohio representation to the Democrats' ticket. He represents northern Columbus, including the Northland and Clintonville neighborhoods. He has spent his adult life there after growing up in the Cleveland suburb of Bay Village.
Carney received bachelor's and law degrees from Ohio State University and was twice elected OSU's student government president. As a legislator, he has voted to limit college tuition increases.