CLEVELAND — Emily’s List, the national progressive organization that promotes women for public office, has endorsed Democrat Nan Whaley in next year's race for Ohio governor.
Whaley, the mayor of Dayton, is running to unseat Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.
"Nan has worked tirelessly to bring back economic opportunities and prosperity to her community," Emily Cain, the executive director of Emily's List, said in a statement. "As mayor of Dayton, she has seen firsthand the struggles facing Ohio’s working families — including the opioid epidemic, broken education system, and factory closures — and she has dedicated her public service to solving those problems.”
The endorsement is the group's first of a gubernatorial challenger in the 2022 cycle. Emily's List is supporting four incumbent governors for re-election and backed Jennifer Carroll Foy, who lost a Democratic primary this month in Virginia, where there was no incumbent on the ballot.
"If the people in charge knew how to fix Ohio's problems, they’d have done it by now," Whaley said in a statement.
"It's time for a woman in the Governor's Office but, more than that, it's time for a governor who is fighting for every single Ohioan, regardless of their zip code," she added.
The early timing of the endorsement is significant in Ohio, where Whaley and two other women entered the 2018 Democratic primary for governor but eventually dropped out to consolidate support around eventual nominee Richard Cordray, who lost to DeWine. Emily's List had endorsed the last woman standing, a day before the primary filing deadline. She dropped out a week later.
Whaley is Ohio's only declared Democratic candidate for governor, though Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has said he's planning to launch a campaign this year.
Cain noted the rush of abortion restrictions moving through the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, saying "it has never been more important to elect a Democratic pro-choice woman."
DeWine's team has heralded him as the "most pro-life governor in Ohio history." But some anti-abortion groups have split with DeWine over his pandemic restrictions, and he has drawn primary challenges on the right, including one from former Rep. Jim Renacci.
The Emily's List nod is Whaley's second national endorsement this week. The 314 Action Fund, which supports Democrats who have backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math, endorsed Whaley on what it described as her "pro-science and pro-truth" credentials. A chemistry major in college, Whaley has worked professionally in politics and government.