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GOP gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor: Renacci departure focuses race

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    Mary Taylor, lieutenant governor of Ohio currently making a gubernatorial run, and Nathan Estruth, her running mate, during an interview at The Blade.

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    Mary Taylor, lieutenant governor of Ohio currently making a gubernatorial run, and Nathan Estruth, her running mate, during an interview at The Blade.

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    Nathan Estruth

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    Nathan Estruth, running mate to Ohio GOP gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor.

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    Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor and running mate Nathan Estruth during an interview at The Blade in Toledo Thursday.

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    Gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor speaks during Thursday's interview at The Blade as running mate Nathan Estruth listens.

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    Mary Taylor, lieutenant governor of Ohio currently making a gubernatorial run, and Nathan Estruth, her running mate.

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    Mary Taylor, lieutenant governor of Ohio, and Nathan Estruth.

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    Mary Taylor, lieutenant governor of Ohio currently making a gubernatorial run, speaks during an interview at The Blade.

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    Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor.

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Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said during a campaign swing through Toledo Thursday that U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s departure from the governor’s race enhances her chances of winning the Republican nomination on May 8.

Mr. Renacci, an Akron-area congressman, pivoted Thursday to campaign for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate against U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio)

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Mary Taylor, lieutenant governor of Ohio currently making a gubernatorial run, and Nathan Estruth, her running mate, during an interview at The Blade.

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With Ms. Taylor was her newly named running mate, Nathan Estruth, a Cincinnati-area businessman making his first foray into politics.

“It makes our path to victory all the better. There was a path to victory for me from the beginning. And now that it’s down to conservative-outsider team versus the establishment-career politician team, I think it solidifies our path,” Ms. Taylor in a stop at The Blade, referring to her opponents, Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted.

“Even more important than Renacci dropping out of the governor’s race, my choice of Nathan yesterday helps us solidify the conservative base, which is a vitally important voting block in a Republican primary,” Ms. Taylor said.

Mr. Estruth, president and CEO of iMFLUX, a spinoff of Procter & Gamble, was introduced Wednesday as Ms. Taylor’s running mate. On Thursday, the two spoke at a meeting hosted by One Energy, a wind-energy company in Findlay, appeared on WSPD-AM-1370 radio with host Scott Sands, and then were to do a meet-and-greet at Owens Corning in Perrysburg.

Mr. Estruth said he agreed to run with Ms. Taylor because of her success as a candidate beginning in 2006 when she won the race for state auditor, winning more votes than then-U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio), who lost his re-election bid. She was the only Republican to win statewide office that year.

“My wife and I had to make a decision, leaving the company I love,” Mr. Estruth said. “Mary has consistently surprised and won statewide and outperformed Mike DeWine in ’06 in her first run statewide. The only person on the Republican side who can win in November now is Mary Taylor. I think the voters of Ohio in this Republican primary are going to care about ‘can they win.’”

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Gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor speaks during Thursday's interview at The Blade as running mate Nathan Estruth listens.

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Mr. Renacci was casting himself as the conservative outsider — a stance that Ms. Taylor said would not have held up as his voting record in Congress came under closer scrutiny.

Mr. DeWine is widely acknowledged as the frontrunner in the GOP governor contest.

Ms. Taylor said she had remained in the race for the GOP nomination while others have dropped out, proving that rumors that she was going to do so were false.

“I said from the beginning I’m in this race because I’m committed to real solutions for Ohioans, and Nathan adds to that for me. He left his job in the private sector and retired from almost 27 years with Procter & Gamble,” Ms. Taylor said.

Ms. Taylor has staked out a conservative political stance, including distancing herself from her current boss, Republican Gov. John Kasich, by opposing the Medicaid expansion.

Ryan Stubenrauch, spokesman for the DeWine campaign, said, "It’s sad to see Lt. Governor Taylor resorting to this kind of negative campaigning. It’s what you do when you’re so far behind in support like she is. She’s had a great career and has been a great partner to Governor Kasich. For her to flame out this way with negative attacks just isn’t what Ohioans want from their leaders."

Ohio politics has gone through a major upheaval just in the last few days with Mr. Renacci, of the Akron area, switching from the gubernatorial race to the U.S. Senate race, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich launching a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley dropping out of the Democratic governor race.

Ms. Whaley is expected to endorse Richard Cordray, former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and his running mate Betty Sutton, for governor at a news conference Friday in Dayton.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com419-724-6058, or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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