Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced Tuesday he will not seek a rematch against Republican Gov. John Kasich in 2014 governor’s race, which opens the field for Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, Youngstown-area Congressman Tim Ryan, former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray and others.
Strickland, 71, said he wants to speak with the Democratic contenders before deciding who he will support. Whoever Democrats nominate will go up against Kasich, who may be tough to beat as Ohio’s economic numbers continue to improve, according to recent polls.
A poll released in December by Quinnipiac University found that 58 percent of Ohio voters are satisfied with how things are going in Ohio and 42 percent think the economy is improving. The same survey, though, showed that voters are split 36 percent to 43 percent over whether Kasich deserves a second term and 43 percent dislike Kasich’s policies while 38 percent like them.
“When the time comes, the governor will be very comfortable holding up his record of how Ohio has gotten back on track and has begun to thrive again in the past two years. There’s still a lot of work still to do, however, and getting Ohio moving again will continue to be his focus until the last minute of the last hour that he’s governor of the state he loves,” said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols. Kasich is expected to run for re-election, but has not made a formal announcement.
The Quinnipiac poll found that FitzGerald, Ryan and Cordray are virtually unknown to Ohio voters.
* Seventy-percent said they hadn’t heard enough about Cordray to form an opinion, even though he served two years as state treasurer and two years as attorney general.
* 74 percent said they don’t know Ryan, a five-term congressman from the Mahoning Valley.
* 84 percent don’t know FitzGerald, a former FBI special agent who investigated organized crime and political corruption.
FitzGerald said he will make up his mind in the coming months. He said he recognizes the need to raise millions of dollars and build his name identification statewide if he runs.
Elected in 2010 as the first Cuyahoga County executive, FitzGerald said he has balanced the county budget without raising taxes and focused on ethics, higher education, economic development and public safety.
“We’ve done a lot of good work up here and once that message gets out, that’ll be appealing to people … The county is doing more than it ever has before and it is doing it with fewer employees and less money,” he said.
Cordray declined to comment about whether he’ll run. Cordray has avoided making comments about his political future since being named director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by President Barack Obama.
Ryan campaign spokesman Wiley Rennestrand said no decision has been made about whether Ryan will run for governor, adding “We are definitely looking at all the options.”
Strickland decided he wanted to try something new rather than run for his old job.
“I’m a psychologist, as you know, and one of the things I believe about human beings is that they need new experiences and this is a time in my life I may have opportunities to do things I haven’t done before so I decided this was the right time to do something I haven’t done yet in my life,” Strickland said in a phone interview early Tuesday. He is considering two or three opportunities but added that he does not know if the Obama Administration will be offering him a position.
He said he and his wife Frances will continue to be politically active as private citizens.
“We will continue to stand with working men and women to build a stronger Ohio — and to defeat anti-worker and anti-middle class legislation that may arise,” Strickland said.