Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley Announces Run For Governor

Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley speaks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on assault weapons on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. [Andrew Harnik / AP]
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley speaks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on assault weapons on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. [Andrew Harnik / AP]

Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton, has announced she's running for governor in 2022.

It is the second time the 45-year-old Democrat will try to make Ohio history by becoming the first female major-party governor nominee. Her decision had been expected after she announced in early January she wouldn’t seek a third term as mayor.

She also considered a run next year for the U.S. Senate seat coming open in Ohio.

Whaley said she wants the state to focus on helping workers, increasing wages, investing in education, and cracking down on corruption. 

“I have been through leading a community through its toughest times. I know what's going on every single day and people that are trying to get ahead and getting further and further behind. And I will lead the effort to clean up Columbus. I am not part of the self-dealing that's going on, and it's time to do something different,” Whaley said. 

Whaley added she would like to see Ohio raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“I think being pro-worker is being pro-business. What I hear over and over again from businesses is they can’t find a strong enough workforce. And I think a lot of that has to do with one, making sure that we invest in our workers from the very young age, and two, that we pay them well,” said Whaley, who also proposes providing statewide universal preschool.

Whaley gained statewide and national attention for her response to several critical events in Dayton.

After the 2019 mass shooting there, Whaley became a lead Ohio voice calling for more gun regulations.  Whaley has criticized Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) for signing gun lobby-backed legislation this year after gun reform efforts failed in the state legislature.

Whaley becomes the first Democrat to announce a gubernatorial bid challenging DeWine, who says he will seek re-election. 

“Governor Mike DeWine’s leadership kept Ohioans safe, people working, and kids learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and his policies continue to put Ohio first,” said Dave Rexrode, Republican Governors Association executive director, in a written statement. “Nan Whaley is a failed candidate who seems destined to repeat the same mistakes she made in 2018. Democrats have increasingly embraced an extreme agenda that is out of step with mainstream Ohio; and the RGA is all in and looking forward to standing with Governor DeWine and helping him lead Ohio for four more years.”

Central Ohio business owner and farmer Joe Blystone is also running for the Republican nomination, positioning himself as running to the right of DeWine.

Whaley served two terms on the Dayton City Commission before becoming the city's mayor in 2013. She grew up in Indiana and moved to Dayton in 1994 to attend the University of Dayton. In 2018, she bowed out of the gubernatorial race to endorse eventual Democratic nominee Richard Cordray, who lost to DeWine in the general election.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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