The Candidates For Ohio Attorney General
While the governor’s race is getting most of the attention in this election year, there are four other statewide offices that will be on the ballot.
One of those is the Ohio Attorney General's office. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler spoke with the two major party candidates.
Republican incumbent Mike DeWine and Democratic challenger David Pepper have similar answers to the question of what is the most important mission of the Attorney General, whose office oversees law enforcement and consumer protection. DeWine says he feels the most important function is to protect Ohio families – Pepper says it’s to keep people, families and communities safe. They’re more specific when asked about the state’s heroin problem. DeWine says he’s created a heroin unit to work with local jurisdictions and has held town hall meetings in communities.
“You have to first recognize there’s a problem before you can do anything about it. I think prevention and education is the most important thing.”
Pepper says there needs to be more treatment options in all 88 counties and more prosecution for dealers.
“We’ve laid out a specific plan. And right now in Ohio, there is no plan on the heroin crisis. There’s a whole lot of talk. There’s not a lot of action.”
DeWine says his office started the program to test old rape kits around the state, and that his office has taken in 8200 kits and tested more than half of them – and got hits to likely suspects in a third of those.
“Since I’ve taken office, we’ve had a four-fold increase in workload. We’ve taken that backlog from 125 days to an average of 22 or 23 days, and we can turn a case around in 24 hours.”
But Pepper says if more kits and resources were shared with crime labs around the state, the backlog could be handled more quickly.
“Right now he’s only able to test 300 a month. So I give him credit for beginning the testing, but I don’t give him credit for not managing this process well. It’s taking far too long. We know that it’s working so let’s speed it up.”
Pepper has been on the offensive for most of this campaign. He accuses DeWine rewarding donors who’ve given millions to his campaign and to the Republican party with lucrative debt-collection contracts, often by rigging bids and fudging business records.
“This is the office in Ohio, more than any other, that’s supposed to be cracking down on corruption and calling out pay to play and demanding integrity in government, and it’s breaking all the rules.”
DeWine says those charges are “totally irresponsible” and that his office is following the law.
“There’s no secret about who gets business. There’s no secret about who gives money. It’s all published. There’s no way that anybody giving money to my campaign, any more than would for anybody else, that that impacts what people get business.”
And the two also disagree strongly on social issues. Pepper wants DeWine to stop fighting for Ohio’s same sex marriage ban, but DeWine says he has to uphold the Ohio Constitution. DeWine is a well-known opponent of abortion rights and the federal Affordable Care Act, and says he filed the first friend of the court brief in the US Supreme Court case involving Hobby Lobby and birth control because it was about religious liberty, but Pepper says DeWine used taxpayer dollars to fight for his extreme positions. And as for reports that Pepper paid almost $10,000 in parking tickets over a decade and a half – Pepper says that’s an old story dredged up for the political silly season. DeWine only said he didn’t understand how that happened and that his wife would have been angry.