Ted Strickland spoke at a forum co-sponsored by two groups that oppose coal


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Ex-Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democratic nominee for a U.S. Senate seat, spoke about renewable energy at a forum co-sponsored by two organizations that want to eliminate the use of coal.

Strickland’s participation in the Tuesday event during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia drew criticism from Republicans who question his commitment to coal.

However, David Bergstein, a Strickland campaign spokesman, said the candidate went to the event to discuss the renewable energy bill he signed into law as governor in 2008, and he continues to back the use of coal.

Coal has been a major issue in Appalachia, where the former governor was born and raised, during his challenge to incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman in one of the most-watched Senate races in the country.

“He cares about coal miners and coal communities,” Bergstein said of Strickland. “Investing in clean energy can spark economic growth in coal communities.”

Attending the event doesn’t mean Strickland is anti-coal, he said.

“What is shows is Ted supports investments in clean energy that can create a lot of jobs and economic opportunities for Ohioans,” Bergstein said.

Strickland was a featured speaker at “Winning on Climate Together,” sponsored by the Sierra Club, NextGen Climate, the League of Conservation Voters and the NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council] Action Fund. Sierra Club and NextGen want to eliminate the use of coal.

“Ted Strickland can spin it anyway he wants, but giving a speech at an event sponsored by left-wing organizations hell bent on making coal obsolete shows just what a two-face he really is,” said Ian Prior, spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, a top Republican Super PAC. “When he needs votes in southeast Ohio, he pretends to care about the coal industry. When he needs money from the environmental lobby to save his broke campaign, he sings a whole different tune.”

Michawn Rich, a Portman campaign spokeswoman, said, “It’s not surprising that Ted Strickland is relying on his anti-coal allies to prop up his campaign.”

NRDC has spent $532,128 to support Strickland in the Senate campaign and the Sierra Club has spent $714,968, according to Portman’s campaign.

Portman was endorsed last month by the United Mine Workers of America’s National Council of Coal Miners Political Action Committee, the nation’s largest coal-miners union and a group that backed Strickland during his 2006 and 2010 gubernatorial races.

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