Now that former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland has announced he won’t run again for governor in 2014, the question turns to whom the party will find to take on current Republican Gov. John Kasich. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports on some of the possible contenders.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland has been on the front lines, leading Democratic causes since he lost his reelection bid to Republican Governor John Kasich in 2010. That’s why Strickland’s announcement that he won’t run comes as a surprise to some observers -- but not Matt Borges, the executive director of the Ohio Republican Party.
BORGES: "No one around here is really surprised."
Borges says he also doesn’t think the Democrats can put up a gubernatorial candidate capable of beating Kasich.
BORGES: "You know to me, it’s more of a reflection of the remarkable job John Kasich has done as governor in his first two years in turning the state around, and I don’t know why it would appear like an attractive opportunity for any Democrat to want to run for governor right now."
But in a written statement, the head of Ohio’s Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, says strong Democratic office holders are prepared to hold Kasich accountable for "anti-worker, anti-woman agenda that has unfairly skyrocketed local taxes."
Redfern points out only 36 percent of Ohioans, according to a recent statewide poll, believe Governor Kasich deserves to be reelected. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, one of the Democrats who is widely mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate, says he’s considering a run but he says Kasich’s polling numbers won’t be a factor.
FITZGERALD: "You know, his polls have gone up and down, mostly down. But my decision about whether or not I would run against him would be on my decision about whether or I could do a better job than he could do, and whether or not he happens to be up or down in the polls. You know, we don’t know where his polls are going to be, or his approval rating is going to be, two years from now so I think it would be foolish to say I’m going to run because there's a couple polls where he seems to be down. You have to do it based on your own belief in your ability to serve the people of the state of Ohio in the capacity as their governor."
FitzGerald says he is strongly considering a run for the state’s top post.
FITZGERALD: "I have never run statewide before and I have to make sure I have a broad base of support across the whole state to put together a first-class campaign organization. There’s just a lot involved in running statewide under any circumstances, and to run against an incumbent governor is always a challenge, and so there would be a lot of work that would be entailed, so I think I need to make a decision fairly soon, because it's a big undertaking."
INGLES: "Fairly soon. Is that a matter of weeks, a matter of months?"
FITZGERALD: "Well, I would say in the first quarter of this year anyway."
Fitzgerald says if he runs, he would explain how he differs with Kasich on key issues.
FITZGERALD: "Gov. Kasich's record on a number of issues -- budgetary issues, the turnpike issue, what he did with Senate Bill 5, a whole host of things. I think there’s a better way to do those things, a way that’s much more supportive of middle-class Ohioans, and I think the Democratic party’s nominee is going to have a very strong case to make."
Another Democrat who’s often mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate, Congressman Tim Ryan of Northeast Ohio, is not talking about his possible future plans but put out a written statement thanking Strickland and his wife, former First Lady Frances, for their service. Another man who’s often talked about as a gubernatorial candidate is Former Ohio Attorney General and current federal financial consumer watchdog Richard Cordray. He explains he has a federal law enforcement regulatory position that so he cannot comment or speculate on politics.