COLUMBUS - State Auditor Mary Taylor announced plans yesterday to seek re-election next year, saying she sees her role in Ohio's current budget crisis as stepping in with answers for questions no one else will answer.
"Over the last couple of months, many Ohioans have asked the question 'Where will we be in Ohio when the one-time federal and state money is gone? How will we continue to pay for programs and balance this budget?' It was a question that went unanswered," said the only Republican holding statewide elected office.
Her answer to that question was a potential budget hole as wide as $7.9 billion by 2013, an answer that prompted Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to challenge her to identify which taxes she would raise and which services she would cut to fill that gap.
"I expect to continue to offer the resources of the auditor of state's office to look at state operations [and] to do performance audits that we believe are so meaningful as governments across the state are looking to cut costs, be more efficient, and balance their budgets," said Ms. Taylor.
The former state representative from the Akron suburbs served in the Ohio House before she bucked the Democratic tide of 2006 that swept Republicans from statewide executive office. She's the first certified public accountant to hold the post.
She considered seeking the GOP nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio), but ultimately decided to stay put. Yesterday's announcement lost some of its thunder when Ohio Republican Party leadership last week endorsed her as its candidate for her current job.
"An open Senate seat doesn't come along every day, and I think it would be logical for me to have considered my options to run for that Senate seat," said Ms. Taylor.
She said the GOP's need to keep her current office in its column was not a major factor in her decision not to run for the Senate. Holding on to the seat is crucial to Republican hopes of controlling the once-in-a-decade apportionment board that will redraw state legislative districts in 2011 to reflect population shifts documented by the U.S. Census.
She has not met the attorney who so far looks like he will be her Democratic opponent in the 2010 general election. Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper was recruited by Mr. Strickland.
"An auditor needs to be independent and needs to hold people accountable regardless of party, but also to do more than just point out problems," said Mr. Pepper. "An auditor should also help come up with solutions.
"You can stand at a press conference and point out future budget trouble, but you're not telling anyone anything they don't already know," he said.
"I have a broader, more proactive view of what an auditor should be doing."
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State Auditor Mary Taylor announced plans Wednesday to seek re-election next year, saying she sees her role in Ohio's current budget crisis as stepping in with answers for questions no one else will answer.