Ohio elections chief Jon Husted joins 2018 race for governor

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted entered the race for Ohio governor Sunday.

The Republican from southwest Ohio becomes the second Republican to join the 2018 gubernatorial field in what is expected to be a crowded race to replace GOP Gov. John Kasich, who’s term-limited.

Husted’s official announcement at the University of Dayton, his alma mater, is being followed by a campaign tour across the state. Stops include Williams and Licking counties, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Washington Court House and Circleville.

Husted, 49, is a former state senator and Ohio House speaker. He’s in his second term as the battleground state’s elections chief, where he’s drawn criticism at times from voting rights advocates.

Husted instituted uniform statewide voting hours in 2012, for example, a move Democrats opposed as reducing the number of hours that had been available during the high-turnout 2008 presidential election. Husted argued the edict brought fairness and equal treatment to all the state’s voters.

Husted joins U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, of Wadsworth, in seeking the Republican nomination. Two other Republican state officeholders — Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor — are expected to join the race.

Former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, former state Rep. Connie Pillich and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni are vying for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, with more entrants also possible from that party.