ERIC SANDY / SCENE
Betty Sutton speaks in downtown Cleveland about her advancing gubernatorial campaign.
Former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton's campaign for governor of Ohio has attracted the attention of labor organizations and state politicians from Cleveland to Cincinnati. Today, she added U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge to her endorsements.
The two women stood before the script "Cleveland" sign at Voinovich Bicentennial Park to announce the deepening of a partnership between Sutton's campaign and her friend in Washington. The partnership, they agreed, would be a boon to Ohio voters as the 2018 Democratic primary looms.
"We have to be very, very serious about who we elect to public office," Fudge said, alluding to the results of last year's presidential election.
It's a powerhouse endorsement seven months out from the May 7 primary election, which will pit Sutton against Democratic challengers Nan Whaley, Connie Pillich and Joe Schiavoni. (Richard Cordray, Dennis Kucinich and Jerry Springer, all Democrats, have teased the possibility of running, as well.) For Sutton, the Fudge endorsement solidifies a through-line from Columbus to Washington.
"We are going to have a partner who understands that this needs to be a state with an economy that works for everyone," Sutton says. She intends to organize a Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, a move that would return the state government's workforce relations to the public sphere. (Gov. John Kasich has spent his two terms touting the private nonprofit corporation JobsOhio, which has proven largely exempt from public scrutiny
And with Washington bookending one side of the state's partnerships, Sutton's gaze is fixed on local communities too. "We have to stop cutting all of our local government funds and pushing the crisis down onto our communities. We have great people. It is our greatest resources in this state, and we need to invest in empowering our people to succeed."
On the matter of health care in particular, Sutton noted Kasich's work on maintaining the Medicaid expansion. She pointed to the turbulence in the White House as something she will stand against. "Health care is serious for us," she said. "I would fight to keep [the Medicaid expansion]. President Trump and the Republicans, any time they try to roll back and rip away health care from Ohioans, they are going to find their fiercest opponent in Gov. Betty Sutton."
Sutton served in the U.S. House from 2007 to 2013. She served in the Ohio Statehouse from 1993 to 2000.