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With Strickland Out, Who's In?

Former Governor Strickland has been on the front lines of Ohio politics, leading Democratic causes since he lost his re-election 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. "No one around here is really surprised," Borges says. Borges says he doesn’t think the Democrats can put up a gubernatorial candidate capable of beating Kasich.

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 try 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 re-elected. 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. "You know his polls have gone up and down, mostly down. But my decision about whether I run against him would be on my decision on whether I could do a better job and not where he stands in the polls," Fitzgerald says. "You know, we don’t know where his polls are going to be two years from now so I think it would be foolish to say I’m going to run 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 of their governor." Fitzgerald says he is strongly considering a run for the state’s top post. "I have never run statewide before and I’ve got to make sure I have a broad base of support to put together a first class campaign organization."

There’s a lot involved in running statewide under any circumstances so to run against an incumbent Governor is always a challenge so I think there is a lot of work entailed so I think I need to make a decision fairly soon because it would be a big undertaking.

Fitzgerald says he'll make a decision by the first quarter of this year.  If he runs, he would differ with Governor Kasich on key issues. "Budgetary issues, turnpike issue, what he did with Senate bill 5. A whole host of things. 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," Fitzgerald says. 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. There is also speculation that former Congresswoman Betty Sutton is considering a run for governor or other state-wide office.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.