Chris Oaks spoke with Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who is running for governor.
Q: You were with President Trump on Monday when he visited Sheffer Corp., a locally-owned cylinder factory in suburban Cincinnati, where he delivered a speech described by one reporter as “rambling and discursive.” What was your take?
A: I think that’s an unfair assessment. The president talked about how his tax cuts were helping small business owners in Ohio, and putting more money in the pockets of those workers. No one reported that he invited several of those workers onto the stage to share their stories, during which one woman specifically related that the extra $1,500 in her paycheck would help her afford the cost of her two daughters’ college tuition. We’re talking about real money and real people, real stories the president went out of his way to highlight.
Q: Obviously, being a candidate for governor, it’s understandable why you would want to be associated with those success stories. But at the same time, the president also was sharply criticized for referring to Democrats as “treasonous,” demonstrating once again his penchant for making incendiary statements that even his supporters later have to walk back. You’ve been courting the Trump base, but are you concerned that may ultimately hurt you in the general election if you get the nomination?
A: Let me put it this way. When I ran for auditor of state in 2006, my first statewide election, that was a year that looked very similar. It was a midterm year in the Bush presidency, and we faced what was perceived to be a similar headwind against an unpopular president. And I was the only Republican to win statewide office that year. So, honestly, I don’t feel all that different about what people perceive to be a similar challenge this year.
Q: Meanwhile, at an event last month, also in Cincinnati, you and Jon Husted clashed over the question of Gov. Kasich’s endorsement — and neither of you appeared to want it. While Mr. Kasich is quite unpopular with the conservative base at the moment, he still enjoys a 57 percent approval rating among all voters, which is among the highest of any state governor. Are those numbers you can really afford to ignore?
A: I’m proud of the work we have done, and the accomplishments we’ve made like cutting taxes by $5 billion, eliminating the death tax, putting nearly a half-million Ohioans back to work.
I’m especially proud of the work I’ve done in the area of regulatory reform, repealing or replacing more than 60 percent of business regulations in the state through my “Common Sense” initiative. That’s a record to be proud of, and I’m certainly not running away from it as some have suggested.
But this race isn’t about John Kasich. It’s about the future, and what I want to do is define who Mary Taylor is and what Mary Taylor’s plans and policies are, and tell voters why I believe they are best for Ohio moving forward.
Q: One of the reasons why Gov. Kasich is so unpopular among many conservatives is his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio under the Affordable Care Act. You are on record as having opposed that decision, but what would you do differently as governor? How do you undo that mistake?
A: First of all, the Medicaid expansion, like all of Obamacare, is not sustainable. What I’d like to do is return our health care and insurance system to a consumer-driven, market-based approach.
Furthermore, I refuse to accept that Medicaid is the best we can do. I would like to bring to Ohio a direct-care model, and make it available to everyone — meaning those currently on Medicaid as well as the private insurance market — where an individual can work directly with their doctor on a payment system outside of insurance, so they can focus on that relationship with their care provider.
Beyond that, I want to be a strong voice to reform social service programs so that we can encourage and help people get back to work, rather than the system we’re stuck with today, with all the federal rules and regulations, that really just keeps people dependent on government.
Q: In your campaign for governor, you have attempted to position yourself as the “outsider” candidate. But you have been lieutenant governor for eight years, state auditor for four years before that and a member of the state Legislature for three years before that. So you’ve been involved in politics at the state level for 15 years. How can you claim to be an outsider?
A: This race is very clear. Mike DeWine and Jon Husted represent the career politician establishment. Ours is the conservative, non-establishment ticket. It’s about the work that I’ve done during my time in public service. I got kicked off the Finance Committee when I refused to vote for a tax increase.
As auditor of state, we modernized the office and changed the way we operated to lower costs for local governments who were subject to those audits.
I mentioned my “Common Sense” initiative as lieutenant governor. These are all examples of ways in which I have gone against the grain of the business-as-usual establishment, something I’m willing to do every single day for the taxpayers of Ohio.
“Good Mornings!” with Chris Oaks airs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays on WFIN, 1330 kHz. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 419-422-4545.