Although Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, is just starting his second year of a four-year term, Democrats are already lining up to take him on in 2014. The most commonly heard names are: former Gov. Ted Strickland, who lost his re-election bid to Kasich by a sliver; Richard Cordray, director of the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former Ohio attorney general; Congressman Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th; and, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald.
Strickland has emerged as the main critic of the governor, the Republican controlled General Assembly and the GOP effort to unseat President Obama. Ryan has campaigned across the state for congressional candidates, while Cordray has attracted national attention in his position as the protector of American consumers. Fitzgerald, who isn’t well known statewide but is receiving media attention as the manager of the new government in Cuyahoga County, has begun traveling Ohio meeting with Democratic Party insiders and the press.
During a visit to The Vindicator, Fitzgerald offered the following advice to Ohio Democrats, while insisting that he had not made a decision about running for governor: Democrats should avoid a contested primary at all costs and rally behind one candidate. The county executive said that the Democratic Party would be putting itself at a disadvantage in terms of fund-raising for the general election because so much money would be raised and spent in a primary that featured several major contenders.
Fitzgerald’s assessment certainly merits attention by the party elders considering what occurred in the 2010 U.S. Senate race when Democrats had a bloody primary featuring then Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and former Attorney General Lee Fisher. So much time, energy and money was expended, that Fisher was hobbled when he faced Republican Rob Portman. Portman is now in the Senate.
It isn’t going to be easy to convince someone who believes he or she can take on Kasich to step aside, but that’s the job of the state party chairman and county chairmen. Democrats believe Kasich and the Republicans are pushing an agenda that is too extreme for Ohio and, therefore, will suffer at the polls. That’s to be seen. Two years is a lifetime in politics.