- Associated Press - Monday, March 13, 2017

CINCINNATI (AP) - An Air Force veteran and former Ohio lawmaker who unsuccessfully ran for state treasurer in 2014 on Monday became the third Democrat to join the 2018 governor’s race.

Connie Pillich joined Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton in what might become a more-crowded field of Democrat contenders. Schiavoni and Sutton previously announced their bids for the office.

Pillich, 56, a suburban Cincinnati lawyer, served three terms as a legislator. While she failed to unseat Republican Josh Mandel in 2014, she feels she gained name recognition.

The military veteran from a working-class neighborhood near Buffalo, New York, launched her campaign with a video in which she walks the route of the Cincinnati Women’s March she participated in Jan. 21, a day that included a park rally against President Donald Trump.

“We as Democrats have got to reclaim our status as patriots,” Pillich said in her announcement. “We need new, progressive and unflinching leadership … We cannot be afraid to stand up for our values.”

Pillich, the youngest of five children, is appealing to blue-collar and Appalachian Ohio residents who voted heavily for the Republican president in last year’s election when he carried Ohio.

“Too many in Ohio are hurting. We saw that in the election results,” she said in her launch video. She plans to focus on job creation, improving schools and rebuilding infrastructure.

Among Republicans, three high-profile statewide officeholders and a congressman are positioning to seek the nomination to replace GOP Gov. John Kasich, who can’t seek re-election because of term limits.

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Associated Press reporter Kantele Franko contributed in Columbus.

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Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

For some of his other recent stories: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/dan-sewell

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