Former state representative Connie Pillich of Montgomery has been laying the groundwork for months and, Monday morning, she made it official – she will be a Democratic candidate for Ohio governor in 2018.
She becomes the third Democrat to announce as a candidate for governor in 2018, joining former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Copley and Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of Boardman.
Pillich is the only Democratic to enter the race so far who has experience as a statewide candidate, having run and lost a race for state treasurer in 2014 to incumbent Republican Josh Mandel. And she has more money in her campaign fund than her opponents - about $425,000 at the end of 2016.
"At this point, I have raised the most money and and I am the only (Democratic) candidate who has ever run statewide; and so I'm the only one who understands the commitment involved in this kind of race,'' Pillich told WVXU.
The lawyer and former Air Force officer announced her candidacy in a campaign video this morning in which she walks the route of the Women's March which drew thousands of people to Washington Park on the day after President Trump's inauguration.
Pillich participated in the march that day.
On the video, the 56-year-old lawyer laid out her reasons for running.
"There is so much we have to do; we cannot let the energy and determination fade away,'' Pillich said of the Jan. 21 march.
Incumbent John Kasich can't run for re-election because of term limits. Pillich ran for state treasurer in 2014 and lost.
In the campaign video, Pillich said the Jan. 21 march made her feel "as determined and patriotic as I did when I went to college on an ROTC scholarship."
"I learned in the Air Force that no matter what the challenge, if you work together and face it head on, you can make a difference,'' Pillich said. "Too many in Ohio are hurting. Our strained communities are looking for new leaders willing to stand for something larger than themselves."
In an interview with WVXU, Pillich said the state faces multiple problems.
"One thing that really concerns me is our education being outsourced to corporations, our roads and bridges falling apart, our young people are leaving the state because they don't think they have any opportunity in Ohio," Pillich said.
Other Democrats could jump into the race. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is considering a run, while many Ohio Democrats would like to see former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray return from his job in Washington as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to run for governor.
On the Republican side, there are four candidates, although none of them have formally announced their candidacies. They are Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Medina County.
Pillich was first elected to the Ohio House in 2008. In 2010, she survived a close election over tea party activist Mike Wilson.
By the time of the 2012 election, Republicans in the legislature had redrawn her district to make it more Republican. Once again, she defeated Wilson.
Two years later, she chose to run for state treasurer and lost in an election where Republicans swept all the statewide constitutional offices.