The (Findlay) Courier

Like Ohio’s governor’s race, a statewide race for the U.S. Senate is shaping up to be a dogfight this year. That had long been the forecast, but now the fighters are a bit different.

While latecomers are still possible, for Republicans, the first round will likely be decided in the May when Jim Renacci, currently a U.S. representative, takes on businessman Mike Gibbons, of Cleveland.

If Gibbons remains in the race, which he has given every indication he will, Republican voters will have a choice between a political insider (Renacci) and a self-funded Cleveland investor (Gibbons) who is entering the political ring for the first time.

Many had predicted the 2018 Senate race would come down to battle in November between Democrat incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican Josh Mandel, the current state treasurer.

Both Brown and Mandel have amassed huge campaign war chests to renew a battle that Brown won in 2012.

But in an unexpected move, Mandel changed the lineup last week when he announced he was withdrawing from the race due to unexplained health issues involving his wife.

That development led Renacci, who had been among the GOP candidates for Ohio governor, to switch to the Senate race.

Melissa Ackison, a Columbus business woman, is also planning to run on the Republican ticket and J.D. Vance, a former venture capitalist who wrote the best-selling "Hillbilly Elegy," is said to be considering a run, as well. They, and others, have until Feb. 7 to decide.

Reports suggest President Trump’s advisers had helped convince Renacci to make the jump, and suggest his support of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign could benefit him in the Senate race.

Gibbons’ candidacy, though, should make for a interesting choice for voters, especially those who are looking for a candidate without Washington connections or a long political resume.

Late last week Gibbons vowed to stay in the race and has said he would add another $5 million to his campaign fund. Renacci, a former mayor, is a four-term Congressman, and someone Gibbons has referred to as a career politician. It remains to be seen how much Trump’s backing will help him.

Gibbons announced his candidacy last summer and hit the ground running. Yesterday he held his sixth town hall meeting of the campaign and already has earned the support of numerous county and township officials around the state.

Such a grassroots effort, while impressive, may not be enough if the national and state Republican Party rally around Renacci. ...


The Canton Repository

Congratulations, Chris Smith.

In a historic, and perhaps somewhat unexpected, sequence of events Monday night, Smith was elected majority leader of Canton City Council.

Historic because Smith, who has served on council since 2008, became the first woman in the city to hold that leadership position. For the past two terms she served as assistant majority leader to Frank Morris.

Unexpected only in that Smith wasn’t sure until recently she would seek the spot Morris had held since 2014.

In fact, it was Morris who nominated Smith for majority leader — in essence, council’s vice president — suggesting to his fellow council members it was the appropriate time to support such a "historic move."

"We always say we’re going to make change, but let’s really do it this time," Morris said Monday.

And they did.

When Smith sat with this Editorial Board in October to discuss issues in Ward 4, she talked about "unfinished business" and knowing "the needs and the wants of the residents" as reasons for seeking to retain her seat.

In endorsing her re-election, we cited one of Smith’s assets: the network of relationships she has built in Ward 4 — where she has lived for more than 50 years — with community and church groups, along with the numerous, active neighborhood associations around southeast Canton.

She now will be called on to use that same relationship-building skill across the entire city — with business leaders, Mayor Tom Bernabei and members of his administration, and even at times with her council peers. She received unanimous support Monday, but Smith should prepare herself now for those times when the tough decisions facing the city over the next two years could make forging consensus more difficult.

We know Smith will not back down when facing those challenges.

Congratulations, too, to at-large Councilman Jimmy Babcock, who also was approved by council vote unanimously to serve as Smith’s assistant.

?‘Babby’ has been in the community a long time, and he’s always been a public servant and he’s always been committed to helping his neighborhood and moving the city forward," Smith said.

Entering his seventh year on Canton City Council, Babcock’s love for the city is well documented. He never misses a meeting and has been a strong supporter of the mayor’s office. ...

... "I believe that the council members now understand change is what we need, and if all of us work together, we can move the city forward and make it a better place," Smith said Monday.


Akron Beacon Journal

The Children’s Health Insurance Program should have gained congressional reauthorization months ago. The renewal should have come before its budget expired at the end of September. The program long has received broad bipartisan support. Yet Congress has disappointed in failing to get the job done.

What the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and its allies, nationally and in other states, find troubling is how the program has become tangled up in the bargaining among lawmakers over a larger spending bill. On Friday, the children’s hospital groups urged passage of a "clean," five-year extension of the program.

By "clean," they mean on its own, free of the horse-trading. That is what the program deserves, and would echo past practice. ...

... Ohio isn’t one of the states sending warning letters to parents about a potential interruption in coverage. It operates CHIP through the Medicaid program. The loss of funding, projected here for the end of February, would translate to fewer federal matching dollars, costing an estimated $15 million per month, leaving officials with hard choices about priorities in making up the difference. ...

... Two decades ago, 14 percent of children lacked health insurance. Today, the share is roughly 5 percent. (The progress aided by the Affordable Care Act, too.)

It hardly surprises that the program results in healthier children, and better outcomes more broadly in their lives, from something as simple as eyeglasses to improved academic performance. What also deserves attention is how CHIP works as the necessary insurance option for many children with special needs, who require, frequent, comprehensive and expensive care.

If there is an agreement in principle among Democrats and Republicans on extending the program for five years, one of the obstacles to passage has been paying for the cost. House Republicans added a partisan twist in proposing cuts to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. Republicans were not as concerned about the $1.5 trillion added to the deficits and national debt by their tax cuts.

Actually, CHIP is cheap, now $800 million for the decade after the Congressional Budget Office recalculated the cost due to the repeal of the individual mandate. Which is another reason for Congress to act quickly — and cleanly.


The Toledo Blade

The gruesome details that have trickled out about a 4-year-old Michigan girl’s death are hard to stomach.

Gabrielle Barrett, 4, of Washtenaw County was found dead in her mobile home with burns and bruises over her entire body. According to a court document obtained by the Detroit Free Press, Gabrielle’s burns were so bad that her big toe fell off and skin was found in the drain of the bathtub.

Stories such as this are soul-sucking and force us to face mankind’s fallibility and potential evilness. There is no place in this world for the person or persons who did this to young Gabrielle. Our hope, however, is that there is a special place in hell for such wickedness.

As a society, we must do more to protect our children from real-life monsters.

Gabrielle’s mother, Candice Diaz, and her boyfriend, Brad Fields, were captured in Georgia and charged with murder, child abuse, and torture in the girl’s death.

The couple have a long string of diagnosed mental illnesses but admitted that they had not been taking their medicine.

When police went to the child’s mobile home in 2016 on a domestic assault call, officers described the home as filthy, with decaying food, flies, and dog feces in the child’s bedroom.

Is this, along with the extensive mental illness history of the adults in the home, not enough for people to ask questions? To take any children from the home until the parents prove they are fit? To at least cause family members or child services workers to stop by?

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has now filed a court document seeking to have Gabrielle’s 1-year-old half-sister removed from the home because of "improper supervision and physical abuse resulting in a child death."

It is ridiculous that a court order even needs to be filed. But no judge will be able to save Gabrielle. Hers is another life snuffed out much too soon. Her death should result in serious questions about how we can do better in protecting our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. It is obvious that not enough is being done now.