Former Hamilton County commissioner to run for attorney general

Ohio Democrats have their first statewide candidate for 2014. David Pepper of Cincinnati announced Monday he will challenge Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine for his position.

Pepper, a former Hamilton County commissioner and Cincinnati city councilman, ran unsuccessfully against David Yost for Ohio auditor in 2010. Pepper had about $6,000 in his campaign account as of January.

On Monday, Pepper officially changed his campaign’s designation with the secretary of state’s office and told reporters he intends to run.

“It’s a job that I’d say has more potential to do good for citizens than just about any out there,” Pepper said.

Pepper highlighted his work as a council member to improve community-police relations after the Cincinnati riots of 2001. He said the attorney general needs to partner with law enforcement while they do their job and also be the top voice and enforcer on integrity in government.

Pepper’s announcement follows several moves hinting at a run — speaking at party events and responding to actions by DeWine. Last month, DeWine and 12 other Republican attorneys general wrote the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seeking exemptions from the Affordable Care Act for religious entities.

Pepper wrote a letter supporting the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurance companies cover birth control and against DeWine’s position.

Pepper said DeWine is wasting time and money on political suits and ideological battles.

“There’s so many issues that need attention,” Pepper said.

Matt Henderson, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, defended DeWine’s performance and said he is focused on doing his job, not running for re-election.

“The attorney general has done a fantastic job and there’s no one who puts more time and effort into his job protecting Ohio families,” Henderson said. “He’s really turned things around from what they once were.”

Pepper is the first official statewide Democratic candidate, but others waiting in the wings include Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald for governor and state Sen. Nina Turner for secretary of state. FitzGerald announced an exploratory committee in March. Turner’s campaign committee created a website encouraging her to run against Secretary of State Jon Husted in 2014.

Ohio Democratic Chairman and state Rep. Chris Redfern said in a statement that Pepper has always excelled at reaching across the aisle to find solutions.

“Pepper is a friend of working Ohioans everywhere and I look forward to his efforts to restore integrity and justice to the Attorney General’s Office,” Redfern said.

Pepper was born and raised in Cincinnati and earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his juris doctorate from Yale Law School. He joined the Cincinnati office of Blank Rome last year.

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