January 5, 2010


Buckeyes on the Prize: Ohio Republicans have climbed out of their deathbed, but there’s a big fight ahead. (Jim Geraghty, 1/05/10, National Review)

Ohioans’ collective sentiment of “enough” led to the election of Democrat Ted Strickland as governor. Three years later, the case against the incumbent almost writes itself. As a candidate, he pledged to rescue the state’s economy; as recently as 2007, his staff was declaring, “One of the primary reasons Gov. Strickland ran for governor was to create jobs in Ohio.” Unfortunately for both the governor and the state, Ohio’s unemployment rate has nearly doubled since Strickland took office; it hit 11.1 percent in July, and today is at 10.6 percent. For much of last year, Ohio’s rate has been worse than that of neighboring West Virginia.

Strickland’s term has been troubled on other fronts. In October 2008 news surfaced that Democratic political appointees in Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services had used state time and resources to look into the personal files of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, the 2008 campaign’s famous “Joe the Plumber,” in state child-support databases. Strickland’s initial response was a one-month suspension of the head of the department, Helen Jones-Kelley; eventually Jones-Kelley resigned. The state GOP has made an issue of Strickland’s awkward laugh in response to a query about how he was going to deal with growing corruption scandals in Cuyahoga County.

Strickland’s situation closely resembles that of New Jersey’s departing governor, Jon Corzine. Like Strickland, Corzine had pledged a slew of reforms and a better life for his state’s citizens; in the end, millions of dollars of campaign mudslinging couldn’t save him when the consensus answer to the question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” was an overwhelming No. Strickland and his defenders will argue that he isn’t single-handedly responsible for the state’s economic woes (one of Corzine’s defenses, as well), but he’ll have a hard time arguing that he has succeeded in mitigating the recession, barring a sudden and dramatic hiring spree in the Buckeye State.

The expected GOP challenger to Strickland is a familiar face to many Republicans: former House Budget Committee chairman John Kasich, a onetime presidential candidate and former host of a weekend show on Fox News. In Congress, Kasich was an earnest, knowledgeable, and often funny speaker, but as a gubernatorial candidate, he is demonstrating political skill at a new level.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2010 6:35 AM
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