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Published: Tuesday, 5/21/2013

State Rep. Pillich challenges Mandel

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — Democrats plan to send a former U.S. Air Force captain, Connie Pillich, to do battle with the proven political firepower of a former Marine staff sergeant, Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.

Ms. Pillich, a state representative and attorney from the Cincinnati suburbs, formally announced Monday that she will seek the Democratic nomination in 2014 to become the state’s top banker and investor.

“I have won a Republican (House) district three times,” she said. “The last time was after they redrew my district to make it 57 percent Republican. Through my hard work and endeavors to work across the aisle for solutions, I won with 52 percent.”

It has been clear for months that the Ohio Democratic Party was preparing Ms. Pillich for a statewide run. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and former Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper have already announced bids to take on Republican Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine, respectively.

State Sen. Nina Turner (D., Cleveland) is expected to go after Secretary of State Jon Husted while state Rep. John Carney (D., Columbus) appears to be positioning himself to run against Auditor Dave Yost.

The slate represents Democrats’ attempt to regain a toehold in statewide executive office after being swept by the GOP tide of 2010.

“Frankly, it’s about time we had a real leader in the treasurer’s office,” Ms. Pillich said. “Ohio needs someone who actually wants to be treasurer, someone who will show up to do the job and put qualified people to work with her.”

Her remarks referred to criticisms that Mr. Mandel routinely missed Board of Deposit meetings during his early tenure as treasurer while preparing to challenge U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and for putting campaign operatives on the treasurer payroll despite their lack of a financial background.

As of roughly the end of the year, Ms. Pillich had $25,162 in her campaign coffers compared to Mr. Mandel’s $219. Both figures, however, are paltry amounts compared to what would be expected to be raised for an office that gets plenty of attention from the financial sector.

Mr. Mandel has proven to be a prolific fund-raiser in his two statewide campaigns. Though unsuccessful for the Senate, that expensive and often bitter campaign kept the former state representative’s face and name in the news. Ms. Pillich acknowledges she will have to work hard to become known outside the Cincinnati area.

“Josh Mandel has worked tirelessly for Ohioans as a watchdog of our tax dollars, and his record of cutting his own budget, modernizing his office, and earning a AAA credit rating on the multi-billion dollar investment fund he manages, speaks for itself,” Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges said.

“By contrast, state Rep. Connie Pillich joined her fellow Democrats in pursuing disastrous fiscal policies that led to an $8 billion budget deficit,” he said. “Connie Pillich is part of the problem that Governor Kasich, Treasurer Mandel, and others have been working to fix since they were elected in 2010.”

Politically, the move is a risk for Ms. Pillich. She could have sought a fourth two-year term in the House in 2014 before running into term limits.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

THE PILLICH FILE

CONNIE PILLICH

Party: Democrat

Age: 52

Home: Montgomery

Office: State representative (2009-present)

Public service: U.S. Air Force (1983-1991), Air Force inactive reserves (1991-99)

Education: Law degree, University of Cincinnati (1998); Master’s in business administration, University of North Dakota (1985), Bachelor’s in business administration, University of Oklahoma (1982)



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