Next year's statewide election has already begun — as far as Ohio Republicans are concerned. And the message they intend to convey to the voters is quite simple: The faltering state economy belongs to Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland (who will be seeking a second four-year term), and the roiling national economy belongs to Democratic President Barack Obama (even though he has been in office for only a month.)
The GOP campaign strategy was laid out Saturday by Columbiana County Republican Chairman Dave Johnson, who was the guest on "The Valley's Talkin' with Doc and Bert" on 1330 TALK WGFT. A tape recording of the show can be heard in the next day or so by clicking on the link on this page.
Johnson, one of the most prominent right-wing Republicans in the state and a major financial backer of candidates, made it clear that the Ohio Republican Party intends to blame the Democrats for the economy. As for the role Republican President George Bush played in his eight years in the White House, or Republicans played when they controlled both the House and the Senate for the first six of those eight years, Johnson offers this view: The economy was hitting on all cylinders until the Democrats took over Congress two years ago.
That's the Republican story and they're sticking to it.
It also explains why no Republican in the House and only three in the Senate voted for President Obama's stimulus package. The GOP knows that there will not be a major turnaround with regard to jobs or the stock market by next year's mid-term election and the party wants to be able to say, "It's not our fault, we didn't vote for the stimulus."
Democrats in Ohio will look to Strickland to lead the charge in 2010. The governor would do well to design a campaign that meets Republican fire with Democratic fire. It won't pay to be Mr. Nice Guy (as President Obama found out when he was slam dunked by the Republicans.)