Will Ted Strickland Survive As Ohio’s Governor?
One of the key races to be decided by Ohioans this fall is the election of the governor. Democrat Ted Strickland is seeking a second term as Ohio’s governor and is being challenged by Republican John Kasich.
Strickland is the 68th and current governor of the state of Ohio. Before his election in 2006, he served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio’s 6th District. Strickland first ran unsuccessfully for that seat in 1976, 1978 and 1980, losing twice to long-time incumbent William H. Harsha and later to Harsha’s successor and campaign manager, Bob McEwen. Strickland ran again for the 6th District seat in 1992, again facing Bob McEwen who he defeated. After losing the seat in 1994, Strickland won his seat back in 1996. He wasn’t seriously challenged again after this and was reelected three more times, even running unopposed in 2004. Strickland was elected as Ohio’s governor by easily defeating Republican Kenneth Blackwell in their 2006 contest.
Kasich is a former member of the United States House of Representatives and former chairman of the United States House Committee on the Budget. As chairman, Kasich worked towards balancing the federal budget, and was the chief architect of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. As chairman of the Budget Committee, Kasich presided over the only U.S. budget surplus since 1969. Kasich was reelected eight times, serving from 1983 to 2001. He formerly hosted Heartland with John Kasich on the FOX News Channel. In 2001, Kasich took a job as managing director of the Columbus investment banking division of Lehman Brothers. He remained at the company until its collapse in September 2008. On May 1, 2009, Kasich filed papers to run for governor of Ohio.
As we go into the final weeks of the 2010 mid-term elections, the political environment in Ohio mirrors the environment across the country. Incumbent Democrats are fighting hard to keep their jobs against a storm of voter discontent. Although most recent polls show Governor Strickland closing a double-digit gap from late summer, he is in an uphill battle against his Republican challenger.
Ohio has been facing difficult economic problems for a number of years. During the Taft administration, Ohio’s economy was already showing signs of trouble. Although the unemployment rate was around 5 percent, that number was consistently higher than the national average and manufacturing jobs were leaving Ohio at an alarming rate.
Unemployment now hovers around 10 percent. Ohio has lost 370,000 jobs in the past four years. It will be up to voters to decide whether or not Strickland or Kasich will address the $8 billion short fall of Ohio’s biennial budget.
Among other issues, the current economic downturn in Ohio is, perhaps, the most visible in the eyes of Ohio voters in November. The Strickland campaign argues that the national recession is to blame for Ohio’s problems, not Strickland’s administration. The Kasich campaign argues that there was much more that Strickland could have done but failed to do to keep Ohio’s economy healthy.