Eight years after leaving Washington, D.C., to run for governor, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is returning to the nation’s capital.
Strickland, a Democrat who spent 12 years in Congress and served as Ohio governor from 2007 to 2011, will be joining the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund as president beginning April 1, the center announced Wednesday.
The action fund is the 501(c) 4 education and advocacy wing of the think tank, and Strickland will have oversight of ThinkProgress.org, which has nearly 6 million hits a month, and the CAP Action War Room. The action fund has nearly a $7 million budget, Strickland said in an interview.
“I’m excited about it,” he said. “It’s an organization that I have admired for a long, long time. I think it’s the premier progressive organization in the country…it does really credible work with a lot of integrity.”
Strickland said he will focus on many of the same issues that he championed in Congress and as Ohio governor: minimum wage, worker’s rights and voter rights.
“If I were to describe what it advocates for, it’s economic and social justice and fairness,” he said. “I see this as a continuation of my past efforts to promote the issues I think are important to average people.”
Last September, President Barack Obama nominated Strickland to be one of five alternate representatives to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations. But his nomination was held up in a standoff in the U.S. Senate over Obama’s nominees, and Strickland said he and the administration “mutually agreed” that Strickland would not be renominated after the U.N. General Assembly wrapped up work at the end of December. “I just basically saw no practical reason to move forward with renomination,” he said.
The new position will bar Strickland from holding fundraisers or doing any partisan work for Democrats in this year’s elections — including the governor’s race. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is running against Daytonian Larry Ealy in the May Democratic primary for governor. The winner will challenge Gov. John Kasich, who defeated Strickland in the 2010 election. FitzGerald has been endorsed by the Ohio Democratic Party.
Strickland may not be able to help in the campaigns, but said his role will allow him to be an “advocate for issues.”
“I can surely advocate for the things Ed is promoting: Minimum wage, worker’s rights, standing up for average people, a woman’s rights to choose,” he said.
While he will spend most of his time in Washington for this new role, he will continue to maintain a residence in Ohio.
On his own political future, Strickland demurred. Some Democrats have mentioned him as a possible opponent for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, in 2016.
“This for me is a wonderful opportunity and I’ll be putting my entire energies into this effort,” he said.
Still, he said, “I’m very confident we will have a very strong candidate for Senate in 2016 from Ohio. It looks like it’s not likely to be me, but life unfolds. You never know what’s going to happen.”
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