By David Skolnick
By DAVID SKOLNICK
Labor Day is traditionally considered the kickoff of the election season.
Though we’ve seen plenty of campaigning before then, the Mahoning Valley will have both major-party gubernatorial candidates here today.
“This area is critical to Democrats if they’re going to win” in the November general election, said Bill Binning, the former chairman of Youngstown State University’s political- science department.
Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, will be at the General Motors complex in Lordstown to attend the launch of the Chevrolet Cruze.
John Kasich, his Republican challenger, is meeting today with reporters and editors of The Vindicator and then participating in a public rally at 5:30 p.m. with Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor, his lieutenant-governor running mate, at the Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton.
Kasich and Taylor then will be at Brilex Industries in Youngstown at 9:45 a.m. Thursday to unveil a new campaign policy. It is the first “policy rollout” Kasich is introducing outside of Columbus, said Rob Nichols, his campaign spokesman.
Strickland’s participation in the Cruze launch is his third visit to the Mahoning Valley since last Wednesday.
“Strickland needs to get his supporters excited enough to vote so he’s spending a lot of time here,” Binning said. “He’s going to the core Democratic areas to get the vote out. He’s not converting [voters]; he’s mobilizing.”
Paul Sracic, chairman of YSU’s political-science department, said after Labor Day is probably no longer the traditional beginning of political campaigns.
“People have focused on this election intensely since the health-care debate [last year],” he said. “I don’t know if additional campaigning will have an effect. Plenty of voters have already made up their mind.”
Strickland along with Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat not facing re-election this year, will attend the Lordstown event that is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m.
They also will go to Cuyahoga Community College West Campus in Parma to join President Barack Obama. Obama is expected to speak about 2 p.m. at an invitation-only event to discuss the economy and jobs.
Though Obama won’t be far from Lordstown, he won’t be at the GM event.
Meanwhile, Fisher purchased television time for his first commercial since the May primary. The commercial will run statewide starting today. Lynne Bowman, Fisher’s campaign manager, refused to comment Tuesday if the ad will run only on cable stations in the Youngstown market.
The commercial focuses entirely on criticizing the trade policies of Rob Portman, Fisher’s Republican opponent and a former President George W. Bush Cabinet member.
The commercial accuses Portman of growing “the economy in China” rather than the United States and uses a map of China at the beginning and a Chinese flag at the end of the 30-second spot.
It’s the start of a “series of events over the next two months highlighting Portman’s failed record of sending Ohio jobs overseas,” said Holly Shulman, Fisher’s campaign spokesman.
Defending the tone of the commercial, Shulman said Fisher already ran ads before the May primary touting his record. Bowman said, “It’s very important we tell the truth” about Portman, Bowman said.
Portman, who’s raised considerably more money than Fisher, is airing his fourth statewide commercial. Though most of Portman’s commercials criticize the Democratic-run federal government, only one mentions Fisher by name and accuses him of doing a poor job with the state’s economy.
In response to Fisher’s commercial, Jeff Sadosky, Portman’s communications director, said the lieutenant governor “is trying to hide his own failed record by launching a false negative attack” on Portman.