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Democrat jumps in race for state auditor

State Rep. John Patrick Carney announced Tuesday he’s running for state auditor and will likely face incumbent Republican Dave Yost in 2014.

In what was billed as a “special announcement,” the Columbus-area Democrat confirmed months of speculation that he would seek his party’s nomination.

Carney, 37, has been a critic of JobsOhio, the private economic development arm created by Gov. John Kasich and the GOP-controlled General Assembly. Carney has called for more transparency for the organization, which negotiates tax credits, grants and other incentives for businesses to create or retain jobs in Ohio.

“I believe that every Ohioan deserves to have state government working on behalf of their best interests,” Carney told a crowd of about 100 at the International Association of Firefighters Local 67 hall here. “I think the only way to ensure this happens is through an open and transparent government, where taxpayers can be the judge of whether or not their elected officials are truly working in their best interests.”

He told reporters Tuesday that Yost should have completed his office’s audit of JobsOhio before last week, when a new state law shut out the auditor from checking the agency’s books. Carney said his experience as a health care attorney positions him to better audit Ohio’s health care spending, which he said accounts for nearly half the state budget.

Carney grew up in northeast Ohio, the 11th of 12 children, and attended Ohio State University, where he served two terms as student body president. He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2008 to represent northern Columbus and has been re-elected since.

He is currently an attorney in the Columbus office of Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges told reporters Tuesday morning the biggest pressing issue regarding Carney’s announcement is that he hasn’t spoken up about the indictment of former Ohio Deputy Treasurer Amer Ahmad, specifically whether then-Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce informed Carney and other Democrats of the FBI investigation when they voted him into the Ohio House.

“It’s been an issue with all Ohio Democrats for weeks,” Borges said. “There’s been stunning silence and I think an overt attempt to not answer questions about the topic.”

Carney dismissed what he called the latest “ridiculous statement” the party has issued to detract from other issues, such as JobsOhio and said Borges is “more worried about playing games than working on issues that matter.”

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