State Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, is trying to go where no other Hancock County resident has gone before, a statewide elective office.
Sprague announced Monday he is running for state treasurer in 2018.
Current Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, also a Republican, will be challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2018.
Sprague will finish his current term, which runs through 2018, as representative of Hancock, Hardin and part of Logan County in the Ohio House. He has served in the House since 2011.
Being state treasurer would be a quantum leap, from a constituency of not quite three counties to all 88 counties in Ohio.
Sprague has a financial background, which he said makes him a fit for the job of state treasurer. Before getting into state politics, Sprague was Findlay city auditor and treasurer.
Before that, he was a management consultant with Ernst & Young in Atlanta, Georgia, and later owned and operated his own consulting firm.
“The primary job of the treasurer’s office is to protect and invest the taxpayers’ money,” Sprague told Courier editors and reporters on Monday. “With my global experience, working for Ernst & Young in the financial sector, solving problems for companies overseas and here domestically, I’m going to bring a lot of knowledge to the table.”
No other candidates for state treasurer have emerged yet. That will likely change between now and November 2018. Running for statewide office in Ohio, especially for the first time without widespread name recognition, is considered a challenge.
“It’s a big state. It’s going to require a lot of time on the road, and I’m looking forward to it,” Sprague said.
He said he has a well-organized campaign, contacts across the state and the all-important money.
“We’ve received a tremendous amount of early support in the first 60 days since the beginning of the year in terms of being able to finance our campaign. So, we’re off to a great start in that regard,” Sprague said. “At the end of the day, we will be able to raise enough money that we will be able to be competitive in each and every media market in the state of Ohio.”
He also plans to use social media. While Sprague did not talk of copying President Donald Trump’s playbook, it’s become necessary reading for candidates, he said.
Social media can help a statewide candidate coming from a smaller community.
“It does allow other people a bite at the apple and it allows more of a competition for good ideas, as long as you’re talking about ideas and policy platforms, not just personalities,” Sprague said. “It allows us to come from a small community.”
No Hancock County resident has held a statewide elective office. Jackson Betts, a Findlay Republican, was speaker of the Ohio House from 1945 to 1947. Jo Ann Davidson, a Findlay native, was speaker of the Ohio House from 1995 through 2000, as a Republican representative from Reynoldsburg.
Sprague’s great-grandfather, Ralph D. Cole of Vanlue, was defeated by Warren G. Harding in 1914 for the GOP nomination for U.S. senator. That same Ralph D. Cole served three terms as a U.S. representative, from 1905 to 1911.
He also served in the Ohio House from 1900 to 1904.
Robert Sprague’s great-uncle, R. Clinton Cole, born in Biglick Township, served three terms as a U.S. representative from 1919 to 1925.
Robert Sprague’s grandfather, Ralph D. Cole Jr., served multiple terms as a judge for the state’s 3rd District Court of Appeals, Lima, from 1968 to 1989. The state appellate judges serve six-year terms and are elected from 17 counties. He also served seven terms as a state representative.
A Kenton man months ago said he was considering running for Sprague’s House seat if Sprague did not seek re-election.
Jon Cross, president of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce and Business Alliance, has filed paperwork with the Hardin County Board of Elections to form a campaign committee. Last fall, he said he would meet with businesses, community members and political leaders to gauge support for a run for the House seat.
Source: The Courier