Is it too early to start thinking about the 2018 Election in Ohio? Never. Democrats need to create a narrative that sticks over the next 20 months. The narrative must not only resonate with traditional Democratic supporters but must also reach folks in all 88 counties of Ohio.

In the gubernatorial race, we now know that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, will not run. But is reporting a potentially wide field of primary candidates, including state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, of Boardman, and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, of Copley, former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Cuyahoga Co. Executive Armond Budish, former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, state Rep. David Leland, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, former state Rep. Connie Pillich, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, television personality and former Cincinnati mayor Jerry Springer, and former state Sen. Nina Turner, among others.


Democratic sources believe Ryan’s decision (to not run) also could lure Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley into the race. She is up for re-election this year but is well-respected in the party.

While Ryan has brought some clarity to a muddled field, there remain as many as dozen other possible candidates and one big question mark in Richard Cordray. The former Ohio attorney general now serves as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington. Many Democrats believe he would be the party’s strongest contender for governor. But Cordray is stuck in limbo.

And meanwhile, as for the opposition:

On the Republican side, Gov. John Kasich is term-limited. Four high-profile GOP officeholders are positioning themselves as his successor: Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

I don’t boast any strong opinions about the potential Democratic candidates yet. It’s pure speculation at this point and we’ll see who actually takes the plunge. On the Republican side, I think it’s safe betting to assume either DeWine or Husted will be nominated.

But I do have one very real suggestion to Democrats all around Ohio: Run for office, at every level. Thankfully, reports are that many people are expressing interest in doing exactly that. I beg of you all, please follow through.

Politics is a dirty game, no doubt, and often that fact can deter good people from seeking office. But extraordinary times require extraordinary effort from extraordinary people. Ohio needs our best people across the board. Think of it as a civic duty, because it is.

In my day job as the associate editor of a community newspaper, I can tell you one thing for certain about the news media: we don’t cover races that are uncontested. This is why it’s important to make challenges at all levels across the Buckeye State. It’s what will get the discussion going in all corners of the state, all 88 counties.

Resources may be thin, but press is free. If there is a challenge, the press will cover it. It forces the conversation. That’s a conversation all Ohioans deserve to hear. Don’t give up an inch, not in times like these, not when your country, your state, your county, your township, your city needs you the most.