Strickland takes on GOP

On the side

Union endorsements: AFSCME Ohio Council 8’s Area Political Committee endorsed all incumbent Mahoning County elected officeholders seeking re-election, but one, for the March primary.

The labor organization chose Youngstown Prosecutor Jay Macejko over incumbent county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains. Not much a surprise as the AFSCME’s endorsements are the same as ones given last month by the Mahoning County Democratic Party.

Like the party, AFSCME endorsed David Ditzler for the one open county commissioner seat and Jerry Greene for sheriff.

Young Democrats: Brandon J. Kovach of Austintown, the former president of the Mahoning County Young Democrats, has been appointed to serve as communications director for the Young Democrats of America’s Great Lakes Region. The region includes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Kovach, a University of Akron student, also serves as communications director for the Summit County Young Democrats.

A conference call with former Gov. Ted Strickland, organized by the Ohio Democratic Party, was originally touted to ask Mitt Romney “to come clean about his tax returns” before this state’s March 6 primary.

Sometimes timing is everything.

Around the same time emails were sent to reporters about the call, Romney agreed to make public his 2010 tax return and his 2011 estimated return.

So a few hours later, the party sent emails calling on Romney, a leading Republican presidential candidate, to follow the lead of his father, when he unsuccessfully ran for president in 1968, by releasing 12 years of tax returns.

Repeating George Romney’s quote about 12 years worth of returns, Strickland said, “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.”

It turns out it really didn’t matter because Mitt Romney’s returns told quite the story.

He made $42.5 million in income in 2010 and 2011, and paid a tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010 and expects to pay a 15.4 percent rate for 2011.

Despite the large amount of income, the tax rate is about the same as the average American because much of Romney’s earnings comes from capital gains.

More interesting, at least to me, was Strickland’s thoughts on the current political scene.

While Strickland lost a re-election bid to Republican John Kasich in 2010, he’s still been politically active.

It’s almost a certainty that Strickland, who used to represent portions of the Mahoning Valley in the U.S. House before becoming governor, will campaign on behalf of President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat.

It was just last week that Strickland spoke with Obama in the Oval Office to discuss Ohio politics and what can be done to revitalize manufacturing.

The former is obviously on the mind of the president and the latter was a key point in the president’s State of the Union address.

Strickland still views Romney as Obama’s “toughest competitor in Ohio,” but said that could change.

Strickland complimented Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House, for being a skillful orator.

But then quickly added that Gingrich is equally talented at being “very willing to exploit bigotry and prejudices” to get the Republican nomination.

The former Ohio governor said Gingrich’s strategy worked in the South Carolina primary, and we’ll have to see if it’s successful in the upcoming Florida primary.

Strickland said he didn’t think it would work in Ohio because this state’s voters are “more fair-minded.”

When asked about the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, a longtime friend, and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, running for the seat as a Republican, Strickland didn’t hold back.

“If there’s ever been a mismatch in terms of talent, experience, ability and character, it’s Mandel against Sherrod Brown,” he said.

Not exactly an unbiased observer, Strickland also called Mandel “wishy-washy,” “a flip-flopper,” and someone who appears willing to do anything to win an election.

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