It may be nearly two years until the 2014 elections, but a lot of focus has already centered on Ohio’s gubernatorial contest. As we’ve said, incumbent Governor John Kasich and his reelection bid are sitting pretty, thanks to his strong record on fiscal accountability and job creation.
That’s tough to beat. Not to mention, the only reason an unnamed Democrat polls remotely close to Kasich is just that–he’s nameless. Ohio Democrats have an extremely weak field to choose from for 2014, because each one has a record he can’t run from, most notably the walking, talking economic recession known as Ted Strickland. And that’s exactly what the Cleveland Plain Dealer took notice of this weekend:
Strickland does not lack motivation to run: His disdain for Kasich is palpable. And Strickland would enter the race with two significant assets other Democrats lack.
Of all the potential candidates, only he has near-universal name recognition. And he is also the only potential candidate with the semblance of a statewide base.
But what Strickland also has is a record as governor. That’s a problem. And it’s gigantic.
The state of a state’s economy is always the major issue in an election for governor. And though governors often get too much credit or blame for that, it’s undeniable that Ohio’s economy went south on Strickland’s watch.
In late October, Strickland feebly tried to embellish his role in keeping Ohio’s economy thriving, but the key statistic he used in making that claim was graded “false” by a Plain Dealer fact-check.
Twenty-two months can be an eternity in election campaigns. But barring a mammoth change in Ohio’s political climate, history would not repeat itself. In fact, a Strickland-Kasich rematch wouldn’t be especially close [Emphasis mine].
Yep. That just happened. The Cleveland Plain Dealer basically just slapped the 2014 Democrat gubernatorial frontrunner.
But even more interesting is their advice to another potential candidate, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald, telling him to wait this one out. Fitzgerald might have potential down the road, assuming he can avoid Cleveland-style ethical dilemmas, but he’s far from being a polished statewide contender. And who are the other potential challengers to Governor Kasich?
Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman? Given the fiefdom he currently controls, and, as the Plain Dealer noted themselves, he’s not interested.
CFPB Czar Richard Cordray? He’s not only required to remain apolitical in his current position, but he’s also been shunned by ODP Chairman Chris Redfern.
That’s it for the Democrat A-list (if you can call it that without laughing). And without a B-list to speak of–candidates like former Rep. Ted Celeste or former Lt. Governor Lee Fisher bring decent Name ID, but would welcome a defeat not seen since Rob Burch in 1994–who else is there?
Of course, that’s not to confuse desire with realism–Strickland would like nothing more than to make another run at it–but there’s a reason he’s actually pausing to consider the move. He’d get slaughtered, and he knows it. Strickland’s getting older, his health is in question, and he doesn’t have too many elections left in him. Does he really want a lopsided statewide defeat to mark the end of his electoral career?
Not exactly a legacy worth remembering, though his record doesn’t speak any better.
It’s no wonder the Plain Dealer agrees with us–it may be almost two years down the road, but from where we’re sitting, Governor John Kasich looks nearly unbeatable come 2014.