Created on Monday, 20 May 2013 Written by JULIE CARR SMYTH,AP Statehouse Correspondent
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A third-term Democratic state lawmaker said Monday she will challenge Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel next year, adding to the growing list of 2014 statewide election matchups.
State Rep. Connie Pillich, of the Cincinnati suburbs, said she'll focus her campaign on fighting for working families, fellow small-business owners and senior citizens.
Without using his name, Pillich criticized Mandel, a Republican from outside Cleveland, for absenteeism from his job during a failed run for the U.S. Senate last year and for hiring young, sometimes inexperienced staff members.
"Ohio needs someone who actually wants to be treasurer, someone who will show up to do the job and put qualified people to work," she said.
Mandel has been a responsible watchdog of state tax dollars, Ohio Republican Chairman-elect Matthew Borges said. He cited Mandel's record of cutting his own budget, modernizing the office and maintaining the high credit rating of Ohio's investment fund.
"By contrast, state Rep. Connie Pillich joined her fellow Democrats in pursuing disastrous fiscal policies that led to an $8 billion budget deficit," he said. "Connie Pillich is part of the problem that Gov. Kasich, Treasurer Mandel and others have been working to fix since they were elected in 2010."
Pillich said the solutions she pursues to state problems will not be tied to either party.
Besides being a lawyer and small-business owner, Pillich was a captain in the U.S. Air Force. The credential has the potential to neutralize military service as a campaign issue.
Mandel, a former state representative, has highlighted his two tours in Iraq as a U.S. Marine during past campaigns. In last year's Senate race, it garnered him the endorsement of 2008 presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. John McCain.
With Monday's announcement, Pillich becomes the third Democrat to formalize plans to challenge one of the Republicans who now fill all Ohio's statewide offices.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is running against Gov. John Kasich and Cincinnati attorney David Pepper is challenging Attorney General Mike DeWine.