Democrats can't count on Republican bashing alone to regain power, a spokesman said.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Looking to the November elections, Ohio Democrats -- long absent from power around Capitol Square -- appear confident of their chances to capture the governor's office.
"It's whether we take advantage of the political times," Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said Tuesday.
In Tuesday's primary elections, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland of Lisbon was cruising to capture the Democratic gubernatorial nomination over former Cleveland-area state Rep. Bryan Flannery.
Meanwhile, in a closer contest, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell appeared poised to capture the GOP gubernatorial nomination over Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.
With a little more than 44 percent of the precincts reporting, Strickland was leading Flannery 82 percent to 18 percent while Blackwell led Petro 56 percent to 44 percent, state election officials said.
Redfern said it will take more than bashing Republicans for Democrats to be successful this fall.
Republicans have held the governor's office for nearly 16 years and have a lock on every statewide nonjudicial office, both chambers of the Legislature and on the Ohio Supreme Court. But Republicans have been mired in controversy because of scandals tied to millions of dollars in investment losses in the state Bureau of Workers' Compensation, the state's insurance fund for injured workers.
Inquiries tied to the scandal have led to Republican Gov. Bob Taft's conviction on minor ethics-related violations.
"We can't settle for just pointing at Republicans and thinking that that is the winning message," Redfern said. "We have to continue to point at ourselves and offer solutions of our own."
Ohio Republican Party officials have conceded that the fall campaign could be difficult.
"The environment is not perfect," said John McClelland, a spokesman for the state GOP.
"This election is going to be about the future of this state. That's what our candidates are going to be talking about," McClelland said. "There's going to be an agenda of job growth, education and health care. That's really what we're going to be talking about and that's what the voters are looking for."