COLUMBUS -- Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor stepped down Friday as head of the Ohio Department of Insurance, weeks after announcing the formation of a campaign committee for a potential 2018 gubernatorial run.
Taylor will continue to serve as lieutenant governor and will head the state's Common Sense Initiative and Ohio Business Gateway Modernization Project, a spokesman said.
But otherwise, "She is now going to focus on the future of the state and the people she represents," spokesman Michael Duchesne said in a released statement.
The announcement came Friday afternoon, with Gov. John Kasich naming Jillian Froment as Taylor's replacement at the insurance department. Froment has been deputy director of the state agency since 2011.
"Mary has capably led the department through some historic times and has been a source of steady, knowledgeable leadership," Kasich said in a released statement. "I am grateful for her work and will continue to rely on her advice and counsel as lieutenant governor. Jillian has worked closely with Mary since the beginning of the administration and has a deep knowledge of the insurance industry and the department and I am confident that she will be able to continue Mary's record of steady, professional management."
Taylor announced in late February the formation of "Mary Taylor for Governor," with plans to make a formal announcement of her 2018 intentions later.
"I want the job of serving Ohioans as our next governor and this is an important step forward," she said in a statement at the time.
A short resignation letter, dated Wednesday and released on Friday, made no mention of future election campaigns. Taylor simply noted her intent to step down as insurance director, effective Friday, and, "It has been an honor to serve as the director over the last six years and I am proud of the work we have done to serve Ohioans."
Taylor's resignation as insurance director comes with a pay cut -- she'll earn about $78,000 now as lieutenant governor, versus $150,400 before. Froment will be paid $139,900, according to Duchesne. She previously earned about $137,000.
Among potential Republican gubernatorial candidates, Taylor and Congressman Jim Renacci have confirmed their interest, with Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine eyeing the race.
Among Democrats, former Congresswoman Betty Sutton, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, former state Rep. Connie Pillich and former Wayne County Commissioner David Kiefer have announced their candidacies, with others also considering the race.
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.