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Candidate ends bid for attorney general battle

COLUMBUS - The Republican ticket's game of political musical chairs appeared to reach its conclusion Monday with the announcement that one of its two candidates for attorney general will bow out and run for state auditor.

Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost, who'd planned to battle former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine for his party's nomination for attorney general, was persuaded by GOP leaders to shift gears after Auditor Mary Taylor opted to join John Kasich's gubernatorial ticket instead of seeking re-election.

"That left our ticket without a viable candidate for this office, the very heart of an accountable and open state government," Mr. Yost said.

The filing deadline is not until Feb. 17, but it appears that yesterday's maneuver may prevent an internal fight for the GOP candidate to take on Democratic Attorney General Richard Cordray. But it sets up a primary fight for auditor with Seth Morgan, a freshman state representative from the Dayton suburbs who said he's in the race to stay.

"The auditor's office requires the ability to not bend to pressures and not be influenced so easily," Morgan spokesman Rob Scott said. "Rep. Morgan is unbending toward pressure."

The only Democratic candidate in the race is Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper.

Mr. Yost, 53, made his decision official at Ohio Republican Party headquarters and said he expects the party's central committee to endorse him in the primary.

His decision did not sit well with some conservative Republicans who were counting on him to take on Mr. DeWine. They also don't like that the move will pit two tea-party-backed candidates against each other.

"It is everything that people find distasteful about politics," said Mike Wilson, a leader in the Greater Cincinnati Tea Party movement. "It's the party bosses in the back room deciding who they think is the best person for Ohio, not who the voters think is the best."

Mr. DeWine is seeking a return to statewide politics after losing his Senate seat to Democrat Sherrod Brown in 2006. As a senator, he angered conservatives with some votes on gun issues and by joining with Sen. John McCain (R., Arizona) and Democrats in the "Gang of 14" that resolved a stalemate over confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

A former journalist and Delaware County auditor, Mr. Yost downplayed having a certified public accountant in the auditor's job. Ms. Taylor, the first CPA to be elected auditor, made much of her credentials when she ran in 2006. Mr. Morgan is also a CPA.

"An important part of the auditor of state's office is to ensure that money is spent according to law," Mr. Yost said. "I don't think any single professional credential is a sine qua non of the office."

"The fact that I have a juris doctor is very helpful in carrying out that side of the mission. And at the end of the day, this is [a staff of] 800 people. This office is about experience and leadership," he said.

Contact Jim Provance at:

or 614-221-0496.

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