COLUMBUS - Dave Yost doesn't have the initials CPA after his name, unlike Ohio's current state auditor and his opponent for the Republican nomination for the job.
But the Delaware County prosecutor and former county auditor said Ohioans aren't looking for another accountant at a time when the state is facing a huge potential shortfall over the next two years and when the federal government is funneling billions to and through the state.
"This isn't just about debits and credits,'' Mr. Yost said.
"It's about cheats and crooks. For the debits and credits, we've got a great staff that's in place that will take care of that … But I also understand how to put a case together when money's missing. I know what to look for as danger signs in a way that somebody who doesn't have my legal background doesn't," he said.
Mr. Yost, 53, originally had his sights set on seeking the GOP nod for attorney general, but he shifted gears after Auditor Mary Taylor was selected by Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich as his running mate.
He has the advantages that come with the official endorsement and financial backing of the Ohio Republican Party while his primary election opponent on May 4, state Rep. Seth Morgan (R., Huber Heights), is backed by the conservative Tea Party wing of the party.
The winner will face Democrat David Pepper and Libertarian L.
Michael Howard on Nov. 2.
After graduating from Ohio State University with a journalism degree, Mr. Yost worked in the early 1980s as a reporter for the now defunct Citizen-Journal newspaper in Columbus.
He then worked in the administrations of former Columbus Mayor Dana "Buck" Rinehart and Gov. George Voinovich before receiving his law degree from Capital University.
A former Delaware city councilman and county auditor, he's in his third term as county prosecutor.
Mr. Yost has accused Gov. Ted Strickland's administration of "deficit shifting" to meet the state's constitutional mandate of having a balanced budget.
"The budget technically is in balance, but he has violated the constitution by getting the federal government to run his deficit for him," Mr. Yost said. "Washington doesn't have that money either. It's not Ohio's tax dollars coming back to Ohio. It's borrowed Chinese money that's running our government."
He proposed taking away the task of estimating how much tax and other revenue the state is expected to receive from those who will make decisions as to how to spend that money, namely the governor and lawmakers.
He suggested instead the creation of a commission made up of the state auditor, treasurer, and attorney general to develop estimates of what is expected to be available for spending.
The governor would have to live within those numbers.
Ms. Taylor is Ohio's first state auditor to be a certified public accountant.
Mr. Morgan said he believes that has lent her greater credibility.
"Yost can make his claim about managing the office, but when Mary Taylor took Strickland to task over the budget, she did it with balance sheets and income statements," Mr. Morgan said.
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