Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has announced campaign operations in all 88 counties of Ohio. He’s the first candidate to publically announce a statewide campaign operation. FILE

Husted announces statewide campaign operations

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is the first gubernatorial candidate to publicly announce campaign operations in every county, which one political expert sees as a political “show of force.”

The announcement, which will be officially made today, shows Husted as “a visible and now, official, presence across the entire state,” said Joshua Eck, spokesman for Husted’s campaign. And Husted told this media outlet that other campaigns “haven’t been able to produce anything like this.”

MORE: Husted lines up endorsements from county party officials

“The one way you have to win Ohio is you have to be active in all 88 counties,” said Husted to this media outlet. “We’re not only active, but we’re doing awesome.”

Included in the 108 chairs and/or co-chairs are Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, in Miami County, Butler County GOP Executive Chair Todd Hall, Clark County GOP Chair Lynda Smith, former Montgomery County GOP chair Kay Wick and Montgomery County Deputy Chair Sharon Lowry, and Warren County GOP Vice Chair Julie Byrne and Warren County Auditor Matt Nolan.

The statewide campaign announcement comes less than two weeks after Husted’s campaign announced that 35 campaign chairs and vice chairs endorsed Husted for governor. The lion’s share of those county-level Republican leaders who endorsed Husted are also heading up campaign operations.

While it’s still 18 months before the Nov. 7 general election, it’s 11 months until the May 2018 primary election.

“While other campaigns will work to catch up, we’ll be pushing to do more,” said Husted.

RELATED: Jobs, opioid crisis among the top issues in Ohio governor’s race

Husted is one of four announced Republican candidates for governor. Others include Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth.

Husted and DeWine both have $2.5 million cash on-hand, according annual campaign finance reports filed in January. The next report isn’t until July 31. Taylor and Renacci announced their respective candidacies after that January filing deadline.

For the Democrats, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich, of Montgomery, Ohio Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, of Copely.

University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven said today’s announcement is “the proverbial show of force.”

“I think what he’s trying to do, especially with Mary Taylor and Renacci, is that they’re going to be up against a real campaign, a real 88-county campaign,” he said.

Niven said it will be harder to muscle out DeWine, a long-time statewide candidate.

“The ideal situation for Husted is to narrow the deal, to make it a one-on-one pitch to the voters,” he said.

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor reveals sons’ addictions in exclusive interview

Being the first campaign to have publicly announced their organization — and just a month after making his campaign announcement — Niven said Husted is showing his seriousness to win and it’s now up to the other candidates to make a move.

“Part of the motivation is realizing that somebody is not actually going to make it to the race, somebody is not going to compete,” Niven said. “And the message is it’s not going to be him.”

While it’s “a battle for dominance” on the Republican side of the governor’s race, Niven said “it’s a battle for relevance” on the Democratic side.

“It’s an enormous task to be known statewide,” he said. “(The Democrats) have so few statewide brands, very view statewide folks. They have to build something out of nothing where the Republicans can build on something they already have.”

X