Ohio’s gubernatorial race is heating up. Former governor Ted Strickland threw his support behind Democratic contender Ed FitzGerald Monday. And as Statehouse Correspondent Andy Chow reports, Strickland says FitzGerald can stop Ohio from moving in the wrong direction.
It’ll be another 16 months before Ohioans actually cast their vote in the gubernatorial race but former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland says it’s never too early to gain support. That’s why he’s announcing his endorsement for Ed FitzGerald.
As of now the Cuyahoga County Executive is the only Democrat to join the race against presumed Republican-nominee Governor John Kasich.
Strickland touts FitzGerald as someone who can stick up for the middle class and stand against injustice. Kasich’s administration says Ohio is climbing out of an economic hole, but Strickland counters that the current policies only help the wealthy.
Strickland: “Average Ohioans do not feel as if they are benefitting from what the current governor touts as the Ohio miracle.”
Strickland knows first-hand what it’s like going head-to-head against Kasich, losing to the former congressman by about 79 thousand votes in 2010.
So what does FitzGerald need to do differently in 2014? Strickland says, not much. He believes FitzGerald’s popularity in Cuyahoga County can play a big role in this race.
Strickland: “Quite frankly—I’m just going to be very explicit here—there are a lot of votes up there that I didn’t get that I think Ed can get. And I think that puts him in a very competitive position here.”
The endorsement comes about one month after a Quinnipiac poll showed bleak numbers for FitzGerald. The poll finds that more than 75 percent of Ohioans say they don’t know enough about the Democrat.
But Strickland shrugged off those numbers, saying Kasich was in a similar position in 2010.
Strickland: “If you look at where Governor Kasich stood in his relationship with me at this point in the campaign it didn’t look so hopeful for him.”
The Ohio Republican Party quickly responded to Strickland’s endorsement by questioning whether FitzGerald really wanted the backing from the former governor. The party’s spokesperson Chris Schrimpf criticizes Strickland’s legacy.
Schrimpf: “Ohio lost hundreds of thousands of jobs when Strickland was governor. Unemployment was at its highest rate in 10 years. He left the state with no money in its rainy day fund and now he’s saying that Ed FitzGerald is his hand-picked candidate to continue on those policies.”
But the legacy Strickland remembers includes an economic rebound and job growth in his last year as governor.
Aside from the economy, the former governor says FitzGerald will reverse course for the state when it comes to social issues like abortion.
Strickland: “The current governor and the current Legislature have taken Ohio backwards. We are becoming increasingly more like Texas or Mississippi or some other state. And let me tell you—I don’t want Ohio to be like Texas. I don’t want Ohio to be like Florida. I want Ohio to be the best Ohio can be.”
Strickland’s endorsement comes just about two weeks after the U.S. Senate confirmed Rich Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Cordray, who served as Ohio Attorney General during Strickland’s term, was once considered to be a possible gubernatorial candidate.