COLUMBUS — Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor has sought to put some distance between herself and her current boss on the gubernatorial campaign trail, but Gov. John Kasich on Thursday strongly reinforced the connection.
“I’m strongly supportive of her,” the Republican governor said. “She has a right to be independent. I’ve given her suggestions on how to be an effective candidate, but she’s got to do her thing.”
The governor, however, dismissed the suggestion from Ms. Taylor, while courting supporters of President Trump, that the two have not spoken for some time.
“I’ve had some very, very sensitive conversations about very personal things that have happened in her family, and I’m always there,” he said.
The governor was not more specific, but Ms. Taylor has been open about her sons’ struggles with opioid addiction as she’s promoted her own solutions to the state epidemic.
Despite serving as Mr. Kasich’s second-in-command for more than seven years, state auditor for four, and in the Ohio House for four, Ms. Taylor has portrayed herself as the outsider in the race opposite Attorney General Mike DeWine and his running mate, Secretary of State Jon Husted.
She campaigned for Mr. Kasich for president in 2016 but has supported Mr. Trump since he won the Republican nomination.
“The lieutenant governor is proud of the work this administration has accomplished,” said Taylor campaign spokesman Michael Duchesne. “This includes fostering a business-friendly environment that helped the private sector create nearly half-a-million jobs, cutting taxes, and fixing the $8 billion budget shortfall left by Ted Strickland.
“Lt. Gov. Taylor wants to get back to talking about what actually matters to Ohioans — delivering jobs, fixing our education system, cutting government red tape and strengthening Ohio families,” he said.
Mr. Kasich has angered some in the Republican base by continuing to criticize Mr. Trump and by partnering with the federal Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid coverage.
“I don’t think things have changed that much since I won 86 out of 88 counties [in his 2014 re-election], but there are a lot of loud voices out there that are on the far right,” he said. “They don’t all like me. They didn’t want me to expand Medicaid. That’s fine. But I don’t think endorsements really matter that much anyway.”
Ms. Taylor has specifically criticized the Medicaid expansion.
“I know decisions have been made that she hasn’t always been comfortable with,” Mr. Kasich said. “She’d express herself, and then she’d go out and support the team.”
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.