Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, like many seasoned election veterans, likes to help the young aspiring politicians who, in years past, helped him get where he wanted to go.
That’s what Strickland was doing in Cincinnati Friday, at the Southern Baptist Church and elsewhere, where he joined Greg Landsman, a fellow Democrat, as Landsman officially launched his run for a seat on Cincinnati City Council.
Landsman – who now runs The Strive Partnership, an effort aimed at improving academic performance for kids in urban areas – goes way back with Strickland. He was the field director for then-congressman Strickland’s congressional campaign; and, after Strickland was elected governor, he named Landsman as director of the Governor’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
Strickland likes Landsman a lot; and touted his council candidacy to the utmost Friday in Cincinnati.
But all the media really wanted to talk to Strickland about Friday was his announcement on Jan. 8 that he would not run for governor in 2014 against Republican incumbent John Kasich, who defeated him in a bruising battle in 2010.
Back then, Kasich came away with 49 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Strickland.
Strickland was clearly the Democratic front-runner for the 2014 nomination; and polling indicated he might well beat the man who made him a one-term governor in 2010.
In the press release that came on Jan. 8 from the Ohio Democratic Party, Strickland didn’t really explain why he had decided not to take on Kasich next year.
Friday, he talked to WVXU and offered a little insight on what went through his mind in making the decision.
“There was speculation out there that I thought I couldn’t beat John Kasich,’’ Strickland told WVXU. “That wasn’t it at all. No one can go into an election knowing with certainty that they are going to win. But I think Kasich can be defeated.”
There’s some evidence out there that suggests that might be the case. The most recent poll from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm in North Carolina, had Kasich with 44 percent to 43 percent for an unnamed, generic Democratic opponent.
A dead heat.
Fear of defeat, the 71-year-old Strickland said, had nothing to do with it.
The thought of spending the next two years raising millions of dollars did.
“The money you have to raise is unbelievable,’’ Strickland said. “And I’ve done pretty well at it over the years. I’ve probably raised about $30 million for my campaign and Democrats over the years.
“But the fact is, it’s not something I enjoy doing,’’ Strickland said. “I don’t want to spend the next two years doing that.”
Strickland said he wants “to do some other things I haven’t done before. I want to do something else besides run for office. I’ve been doing that for a long time now.”
After giving a rip-roaring speech to the delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last September, Strickland hit the road hard, campaigning all through Ohio for the Obama-Biden ticket – which, as we know, won Ohio and its 18 electoral votes.
That campaign came on the heels of the 2011 campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5, the Republican legislation which would have limited the collective bargaining power of public employee unions. Strickland was omnipresent in that campaign; and, in the end, Senate Bill 5 was defeated.
In other words, he has been campaigning almost non-stop since his own fierce battle with Kasich in 2010.
“I just don’t want to do it again,’’ said Strickland. “I’ll still be involved. I’ll help candidates I support in any way I can. I’m not going to go away.
“I have to do something,’’ the former governor said. “I don’t play golf.”