Nan Whaley Should Be Ohio’s Next Governor

Editors’ Note: The author of this op-ed completed an internship for Nan Whaley’s Gubernatorial Campaign over Winter Term. 

With Ohio’s open senatorial and gubernatorial primaries imminently approaching on Tuesday, May 3, many Ohioans will be doing some last-minute research to decide which candidates they will vote for. On the Democratic side, the race for the gubernatorial nomination is between John Cranley, the former mayor of Cincinnati, and Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton. 

Ohio’s elections this year will largely depend on which candidates can best appeal to working- and middle-class constituents. The child of a middle-class family from Indiana and the only non-millionaire in the gubernatorial race on either side of the aisle, Whaley has made this a top priority in her campaign. One of the catchphrases of her campaign is “I want your pay to go up, your bills to go down, and your government to work for you.” Whaley has released detailed plans across a variety of policy areas, all of which will immensely benefit working-class families in Ohio. 

For example, Whaley’s 21st Century Jobs Plan includes policy points like increasing state minimum wage to $15 per hour, banning non-compete clauses in employment contracts, and increasing penalties for wage theft. These policies will move power into the hands of everyday Ohioans to ensure that they are being paid a fair, livable wage. 

Whaley comes into the race with a record of enacting strong liberal policies during her time as mayor of Dayton. In 2016, under her leadership, Dayton began offering universal free pre-K, which was later touted as a possible model for the Biden administration. Whaley has pledged that, if elected, she will expand the program to include all Ohio families. Besides preparing kids for kindergarten in a state where almost 60 percent of students do not demonstrate preparedness, the program would also give parents with preschool-age children the option to return to work after the pandemic. While Cranley’s running mate, State Senator Teresa Fedor, introduced legislation in the statehouse to provide universal pre-K, Cranley has yet to say whether he supports the initiative. 

One of the most critical things that can come out of this race, especially given the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court, is having a governor who is entirely supportive of reproductive freedoms. While Cranley has come under fire for only recently becoming pro-choice, Whaley has supported reproductive freedoms her entire political career. She has pledged to veto any anti-abortion legislation that may land on her desk and to appoint a pro-choice director to the Ohio Department of Public Health. 

Not only does Whaley have a solid track record and forward-looking policy plans for the state, but she has also managed to garner an impressive list of endorsements. She has secured the endorsements of Senator Sherrod Brown, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Dayton Mayor Jeffrey J. Mims Jr., former Cincinnati Mayor Dwight Tillery, 27 current and former state representatives, and four state senators, amounting to more than half of the Democrats in the Ohio legislature. She has also been endorsed by a number of local, statewide, and national organizations, including Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, EMILY’s List, the Matriots PAC, Cleveland Heights Democrats, Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, and Cincinnati Women’s Political Caucus. Here in Lorain County, she has secured the endorsement of the County Democratic Chair Anthony Giardini. And speaking of endorsements — or lack thereof — Whaley boasts an F rating from the National Rifle Association.

Whaley has also built strong relationships with local, state, and national leaders during her tenure as the president of the United States Conference of Mayors, a bipartisan coalition of mayors of cities with populations over 30,000. During her year-long term, she helped to organize mayors across the country to lobby for President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill and represented the conference at the bill’s signing in November. 

Whaley has presented sensible and progressive policy plans, and she has demonstrated strong leadership and a willingness to work across the aisle in her time as the mayor of Dayton and in her gubernatorial campaign. It is for these reasons that I urge you to vote Nan Whaley for governor in Tuesday’s primary.