Stumping for Republican votes at Findlay’s Southside Family Restaurant Wednesday, gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor touted herself as the “unapologetic conservative” and opponent Mike DeWine as a liberal.
The humble eatery at 3050 S. Main St. was packed with regular folk to listen to the current lieutenant governor and her running mate, Nathan Estruth, a former Procter & Gamble executive. It was quite a juxtaposition with a week earlier when DeWine met exclusively with Findlay business leaders at Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s posh new Hancock Hotel downtown.
Taylor wants to end the Medicaid expansion the current governor, John Kasich, forced years ago over Republican opposition.
“It’s not financially sustainable. But also, the vast majority of individuals living in that expansion population are able-bodied adults,” she said. “And able-bodied adults should be working and our efforts should be focused on putting those individuals back to work.”
Taylor comes by her view honestly. She talked about her father, Mathew Capan, and her days growing up in Akron.
“My Dad defined my American dream. He was a single father and as a baby he suffered from polio, and because of the polio he had one leg that was smaller than the other. But my Dad got up every single day and went to work hard as a bricklayer,” she told the crowd. “That’s what I saw as a young girl growing up. Of course there were obstacles, but my Dad never let those obstacles stand in the way of the things he wanted. He never expected anything from anyone and he certainly never expected anything from government. He fought every day to give his children a better life.”
To those who sound alarms that ending the Medicaid expansion would mean abandoning addicts seeking services, she is unflinching.
“I’m here to say to you, if you don’t already know this, it’s not working. We’re still losing too many of our family, friends and neighbors to an accidental overdose,” Taylor said. “The reason for that is, government doesn’t solve problems and big government solutions don’t work.”
Instead, Taylor said she would offer incentives and growth opportunities to private, faith-based and nonprofit organizations “who we know are doing great work.”
Taylor also would seek approval from voters statewide for a bond issue to enable successful addiction treatment programs to grow.
“It will be done in the context of the current budget. There will be no increase in spending, there will be no increase in taxes,” she said. “It’s a matter of, as governor, setting your priorities and addressing the crisis … and making that the most important issue.”
In addition, proceeds from the bond issue would pay for more narcotics officers in communities across the state. Law enforcement agencies have said they need more narcotics officers, Taylor said.
In education, Taylor would reduce the amount of testing.
“We’re going to get rid of all this crazy testing,” she said.
Besides being expensive, it does not inform parents any better about how their children are doing in school, she said.
She proposes having three requirements for graduation:
• A minumum grade-point average.
• College-bound students’ graduation test would be the ACT.
“Ohio students are taking the ACT anyway,” Taylor said. “The minimum score will be whatever it takes to get into college remediation-free.”
• “We are going to drive vocational education back into our schools. We’re going to require it. And the way we’re going to require it is, if you are not going to college and you’re not taking the ACT, you are going to graduate with skills, and a career credential, a certification or a license to immediately go to work. That’s going to be your graduation requirement,” Taylor said.
Taylor criticized DeWine for refusing to debate her. He is ducking her because he has a liberal record that would come out in a debate, she said.
“It’s real easy to hide behind the establishment in Columbus,” she said.
Taylor is posturing herself as the Republican outsider.
“I’m a little worried about our Republican Party, starting with the coronation process in January, the go-along-to-get-along instead of letting — in this Republican primary — letting you, the Republican voters, make the decision about who your nominee is going to be,” she said.
Taylor said she has closed the gap with DeWine and said the race for the Republican nomination is now a “dead heat.”
“We have every reason to believe we’re going to win this race,” Taylor said.
She also distanced herself from Kasich, saying he has departed from conservative principles. Her opposition to the Medicaid expansion was one disagreement. The other: Taylor said she backed Donald Trump for president in 2016 and she will back him again in 2020. She praised the Trump tax cuts as offering “extraordinary opportunities for growth and success.”
Among those in Taylor’s audience Wednesday were Hancock County Commissioner Brian Robertson and state representative candidate Jon Cross.
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