Strickland Won't Run — YAY!
This morning, the Ohio Democratic Party released a statement from former governor Ted Strickland saying that he will not seek a rematch with Governor John Kasich next year. Strickland was a good governor but trying to mount a comeback didn't make sense to me.
While I'm sure it was tempting to go back and try to redo a race that he lost by only two points — with his opponent not even garnering a majority of the vote — Strickland carried some baggage from the last campaign that could have been a minefield going into a new one. Specifically, his allies' working to undermine Jennifer Brunner's U.S. Senate primary campaign and his embrace of the anti-choice, anti-gay Jennifer Garrison for statewide office dampened the enthusiasm of activist women (and probably some in the LGBT community as well) for his campaign.
I had heard much talk in recent weeks that Strickland either would not run unless the field was cleared for him or that if he ran, that would clear the field because other potential candidates had expressed a desire not to challenge him. I have heard some say — wrongly, I think — that Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald should not seek the office because he needs to stay another term in order to get more done in the county.
I don't buy that. It's not like he's only been in office a month and is already looking for higher office (not that any officeholder in Ohio would ever DREAM of doing that — oh no! Hi, Empty Suit!). FitzGerald has already amassed a solid record as county executive and has plenty to run on. He can certainly speak strongly about what Kasich's budget priorities have done to local governments and schools and how they have placed an increased burden on taxpayers.
I've heard someone say his name recognition statewide is low. Sure it is. He's never run statewide. But once he does that would increase rapidly.
I'm not saying that FitzGerald is the only strong candidate. We've all heard the names mentioned: people like Congressman Tim "The Good" Ryan and Richard Cordray. Neither has indicated they plan to jump on board.
I've heard other names thrown out, more like people's wish lists than people who have actually expressed an interest in running. One of the most intriguing to me was former Congresswoman Betty Sutton, who was narrowly defeated in November by a fellow incumbent in a district designed to favor Republicans. Sutton was an outspoken leader in Congress who'd have a strong track record to run on, including the Cash for Clunkers legislation which kept tens if not hundreds of thousands of Ohioans employed. Arguably, the legislation had a greater impact on economic recovery in Ohio than anything Kasich has done.
Strickland's announcement opens the door for other potential candidates to make their intentions clear. The days ahead could get interesting.
Here's Strickland's statement:
Today, I am announcing my decision not to seek election as Governor of Ohio in 2014.
“In many ways, this has been a very difficult decision. I look back fondly on my time as Ohio’s 68th Governor –and am proud of my Administration’s efforts to guide our state through the greatest national economic crisis since the Great Depression. With the help of my First Lady -- Frances Strickland-- my dedicated and loyal Cabinet, and my incredibly hard-working Executive Staff, we held the ship steady. With the help of President Obama, who provided the funds necessary to keep Ohio and all of America from slipping into another Great Depression, we were able to preserve the social safety net, make important investments in education, and position Ohio’s economy for the recovery that started in February 2010.
“And when I look back on my four years as Governor, I am equally proud of those in the Strickland Administration who served the public with honor, integrity, and humility. We sought to make Ohio better.
“My administration was about positioning Ohio as a leader in our rapidly changing economy and global world. We worked to rebuild our infrastructure with a special effort to make sure the national system for rail transportation included Ohio. We worked to ensure there were more Ohioans with affordable health care coverage. We significantly improved our national standing in public education, made sure it did not suffer from deep cuts during the economic crises, and worked to satisfy the Supreme Court’s ruling for equitable funding with a new formula that was less dependent on property taxes. We enacted a comprehensive energy reform bill that helped to stabilize the energy market for consumers and business while creating a renewable portfolio standard that has positioned Ohio as a leader in advanced energy. And, we made college more affordable. Most significant for jobs, we were leaders in investments in alternatives sources of energy and went to bat for the automobile industry; working closely with President Obama on the rescue plan that has been so pivotal in Ohio’s economic recovery.
“In short, I believe my Administration stood and spoke for the causes that count.
“Frances and I will continue to be politically active private citizens. We will continue to stand with working men and women to build a stronger Ohio ---and to defeat anti-worker and anti-middle class legislation that may arise.