The text messages confirmed how hard the DeWine administration pushed for two nuclear bailouts at the center of Ohio’s largest public corruption scandal. New numbers show a rise in children’s mental health issues, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is trying to make a run for it.
We break down what it all means on this week’s episode of Ohio Politics Explained.
It’s a podcast from the USA TODAY Ohio Bureau Network where we catch you up on the state’s political news in 15 minutes or less. This week, anchor Anna Staver was joined by reporter Laura Bischoff.
1) First Energy support
New text messages released this week confirmed that Gov. Mike DeWine is “State Official 1” in FirstEnergy’s deferred processing agreement and “State Official 2” is Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
The Akron-based utility came under fire in July 2020 after federal investigators arrested former House Speaker Larry Householder on corruption and racketeering charges, alleging that he and others accepted millions in bribes of the company in exchange for passing a nuclear rescue bill.
The messages claim Husted was in First Energy’s corner “fighting to the end” as the now-repealed bailout moved to the Legislature in 2019.
2) Middle of the road Ryan?
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan Wants to Be Ohio’s Next U.S. Senator; a difficult task for a Democrat in a state that former President Donald Trump won by 8% in 2020.
The Mahoning Valley native is running hard toward the middle or what he calls the “exhausted majority.” People who are tired of candidates running on the far left and the far right.
JD Vance, Ryan’s Republican opponent, says the Democrat is “swaying” voters on his record, and progressive voters fear the congressman could court the middle at his expense.
3) The children may not be well
The annual KIDS COUNT data book released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed that rates of depression and/or anxiety for Ohio children increased 42 percent from 2016 to 2020.
Chronic absenteeism also “spiked” from 2019 to 2021 when one in four children missed at least 10% of the academic year. And the statistics for black and Appalachian children were significantly worse than their white, suburban counterparts.
4) Reaction to the attack
Ohio Republicans largely agreed with former President Donald Trump’s position that the attack on his Mar-a-Lago home was a political ploy.
The former president called Monday night’s search by federal agents a “weaponization of the justice system” orchestrated to prevent him from running for re-election in 2024.
Vance said “trading some documents” doesn’t justify the search, but Ryan said “no person is above the rule of law.”
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USA TODAY Network’s Ohio bureau serves The Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations throughout Ohio.