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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Mary Taylor Picks "Political Outsider" Nathan Estruth As Running Mate

Mary Taylor, Nathan Estruth
Tana Weingartner
Mary Taylor, Nathan Estruth

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor has reached beyond the stable of professional politicians to choose Nathan Estruth, a Cincinnati-area businessman and social activist as her running mate.

Taylor – the state's current lieutenant governor and a former state auditor – was making a statement with the choice of a 50-year-old who has never run for political office, saying she was "drawing a line in the sand" between herself and Estruth "and the old guard pairing of establishment politicians."

That was a crystal-clear reference to the apparent front-runner in the GOP gubernatorial primary, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and his running mate, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Estruth, Taylor told a room full of supporters gathered at the City Gospel Mission, is "someone who will help me break the cycle of career establishment politicians that have always held sway for a long time in Columbus."

She defined the Taylor-Estruth ticket in terms from the business world – the chief operating officer (COO) and the chief executive officer (CEO)

As lieutenant governor, Taylor said Estruth "will function as the COO to my role as CEO in my administration."

The reason Wednesday's announcement was made at the City Gospel Mission in the West End is that the 50-year-old Estruth has been a frequent donor.

A former executive at Procter & Gamble, Estruth is the president and CEO of iMFLUX, an injection molding company that is based in Hamilton.

At Procter & Gamble, he was vice president of the company's Future Works Division.

Estruth expressed some surprise at finding himself in this position.

"This was not my plan,'' Estruth told a room full of Taylor supporters at the City Gospel Mission. "Today I said goodbye to the amazing people at Procter & Gamble and iMFLUX; and it was not easy.''

As a young man, he worked for President Ronald Reagan for a time.  

"As President Reagan used to say, 'As government expands, freedom contracts,''' Estruth said. "Mary and I understand that. Mary Taylor brings integrity to a political swamp. It is exactly what Ohio needs at this tumultuous time."

Estruth is not a complete neophyte when it comes to politics. 

In 2006, he was a supporter of Republican Ken Blackwell for Ohio governor and headed a group called Common Sense Ohio, a telemarketing organization that polled voters on conservative issues.

Common Sense Ohio ran advertising in 2006 critical of Democrat Ted Strickland, who defeated Blackwell in the gubernatorial election.

Estruth has been a board member of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative non-profit that promotes Christian values.

Some believed that Taylor would consider dropping out of the governor's race to run for the U.S. Senate seat held now by Democrat Sherrod Brown. But Taylor shut down that talk quickly.

There has also been speculation that U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, a candidate for governor whose running mate is Cincinnati council member Amy Murray, might jump into the Senate race. Renacci has not said what he is thinking. 

Copyright 2020 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.