In front of an audience of over 200 at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine reflected Monday evening on some of his accomplishments and also laid out his vision for the future of the state.
DeWine, the former Republican U.S. senator who’s serving his second term as state attorney general, plans to run for governor of Ohio in 2018. Republican Gov. John Kasich is prevented by term limit rules from running again.
“What has happened in this state is we’ve been able to get our financial house in order,” DeWine said, complimenting the work of Kasich and the state legislature. “Elections matter. Since I’ve been in office, we’ve joined Republican attorney generals around the country and have been able to fight back against not just Obamacare, but the crazy rules and regulations that the Obama administration was trying to impose on this country.”
During the 54th edition of the Lincoln Day Dinner, held at the Mahan Building on the Fayette County Fairgrounds, members of the Fayette County Republican Party also listened to DeWine talk about many of his office’s accomplishments, including improving the crime lab and expediting the return of DNA evidence to prosecutors and law enforcement.
“We’re doing six times the amount of work now than the day I took office,” DeWine said.
DeWine added that a special children’s unit has been organized to protect children from sexual predators and others who commit crimes against children. Cracking down on elder abuse crimes has also been a high priority during DeWine’s tenure.
“Elder abuse, whether it be financial or physical, is the most under-reported crime,” he said. “We have set up a special unit in the attorney general’s office to help local law enforcement in this regard, and have had very significant results.”
DeWine also took the opportunity Monday to look toward the future.
“John Kennedy said when he ran for president, ‘The job of a presidential candidate is to lay before the American people the unfinished business of the country,’” DeWine said. “I think that’s also the job of someone who’s running for governor, to lay before the people of Ohio what our unfinished business is.”
Taking care of the natural advantages that Ohio already has is a good start, DeWine said.
“In Ohio, we have plenty of water. You look around at some other states and they don’t have that. We’ve got a strong work ethic here. We have people who want to get up and go to work. When you look at natural gas, when these pipelines are down, it’s going to totally transform some of our poorest counties in southeast Ohio. We’re going to be able to have some of the cheapest gas in the country. Any manufacturing company that is looking to come to the state, Ohio is going to be very competitively-advantaged.”
DeWine said he believes a governor’s “number one job” is to create a business climate within the state that is conducive for businesses to come, and for businesses that are already here to expand.
“We want it conducive for men and women who want to start their own business here to be able to start it,” he added. “That’s the number one job of the governor and the state legislature…to create that solid climate so we can create jobs. Everything really flows from jobs. The governor has to make sure the taxes are low as possible. Not only kept low, but kept predictable.”
DeWine also spoke at length about education and the importance of teaching our children to make healthy choices at an early age.
“When I travel around this state and talk to businessmen and businesswomen as I do every week, what do you think the number one complaint is? The number one thing almost every single time is, ‘We can’t find people to come in and work. We can’t find people who are qualified, can’t find people who can pass a drug test,’ and on and on.”
The opioid addiction epidemic has been a challenging issue for DeWine.
“This is a problem that is devastating to Fayette County and every county in the state,” he said. “It’s absolutely, positively everywhere. We have to get in front of this problem. We’re not going to be able to arrest our way out of it. Experts say that if you’re serious about this problem, you have to start early…in kindergarten. I’m not talking about speaking about heroin to kindergartners, but rather teaching them about good decisions. From K-12, you have to do something and get in front of it. It could make a huge, huge difference. We have to change the trajectory of many of these disadvantaged kids.”
DeWine left the crowd with a note of optimism.
“When I’m governor, each and every day I will work with everything I can to see that everyone, all of our kids, have an opportunity,” he said. “I want Ohio to be the state of opportunity.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica.