Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Does A 2016 Democratic Party Senate Majority Depend On Ted Strickland?


The winning formula for Ohio Democrats?

Tea leaf readers in Ohio interpreted Tim Ryan's years-in-the-making switched position on Choice-- he's always been anti-Choice, has promised supporters for years he was on the verge on switching and then, last month finally did-- to mean he would be running for statewide office. The former Advisory Board member of Democrats for Life of America, Ryan has been long aware that his career would be stalled in northeast Ohio's 13th congressional district, a D+11 congressional district centered on Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley where he routinely draws around 70% of the vote. An economic populist, Ryan was seen as too conservative on social issues. It was widely assumed he was eager to run for Rob Portman's Senate seat.

That seat won't be easy to win, although Ohio is very friendly territory for Hillary Clinton and with her at the top of the ticket, 2016 could be an excellent year for Democrats. But even if Ryan didn't win, all that statewide press would put him in position for a gubernatorial run. That's how the tea leaf readers saw it. And when Ryan's political mentor-- another anti-Choice Democrat, former Governor and major Clinton ally Ted Strickland-- started making tentative motions about running against Portman and Ryan announced he had decided not to run, tea leaf readers read something else: Strickland had made up his mind and is running.

In 2006, with corruption-scarred Ohio Governor Bob Taft term-limited, Strickland, a relatively conservative congressman with NRA backing, ran for governor against far right Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who he trounced 60-37%. In 2010 his reelection bid was narrowly defeated by Republican John Kasich, 49-47%.

This week, its become even more apparent Strickland intends to run against Portman; he's already officially started raising money-- and asked that checks be made out to "Strickland for Senate." Definitive enough?
Dennis Willard, a Democratic communications specialist who is handling press inquiries for what he calls “Team Strickland,” said Monday that the former governor “has started to raise money to better prepare himself to make a decision” on running.

“He is talking to supporters across the state,” Willard said.

Strickland hasn’t formed a campaign committee yet, Willard said. Those running for the Senate must form a committee and file the proper paperwork with the Federal Election Commission within 15 days of raising or spending $5,000, Willard said.
Sensing trouble on the immediate horizon, the NRSC twitter account has been going hog wild about Strickland-- or their inaccurate interpretation of Strickland-- for the last week.

One Columbus-based GOP operative, speaking anonymously, told me that Strickland is the only Democrat the Portman camp fears. "With Strickland in," he told us, "all the natural advantages of an incumbent are out the window. Everyone in the state knows him and if we wind up with someone like Ted Cruz, Huckabee or Rand Paul at the top of the ticket, Rob could lose the seat. There's no other Democrat who would have a chance."

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