YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Four years after leaving the governor’s mansion, Ted Strickland is back and setting his sights on the U.S. Senate, claiming Republican incumbent Rob Portman is not doing enough.
“I really care about my state. I want to go to the Senate and fight for the working people of my state. I think they are not getting a good deal. In fact, I think many working class people are getting a raw deal. I want to be a voice that will fight for them and I think that is needed,” Strickland said during his candidacy announcement in Columbus.
He said he wants to be able to join fellow Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in “advocating for the things that really matter.”
Strickland served from 2007 until 2011 and became just the second governor since 1970 to be defeated after his first term. Before that, he served in Congress from the 6th District. He now works as a lobbyist in Washington.
At this point, Strickland faces a primary race against P.G. Sittenfeld, a Cincinnati city councilman. Paul Sracic, Youngstown State University Political Science Department Chairman, predicts Strickland will raise enough money to wage a strong campaign and could pose a formidable challenge for Portman.
“I don’t think you are going to see a landslide in this race, which means there is going to be a lot of money spent on both sides. I think a lot of it is going to depend on the national political climate,” Sracic said.
He said he thinks Strickland has some advantages on his side.
“Great name recognition and successfully won statewide,” Sracic said.
But Sracic also said the campaign could have its problems.
“He is old blood, not new blood. You could also see it as sort of an act of desperation that this is the only guy we could find in the state who can possibly defeat Rob Portman,” Sracic said.
Ironically, rumors of Strickland’s campaign were seen as convincing Valley Congressman Tim Ryan not to run for the seat, especially after statewide newcomer Ed FitzGerald lost in a lopsided governor’s race with John Kasich last year.
“I think the Democrats got burned in the last gubernatorial election by nominating somebody who didn’t have any statewide name recognition,” Sracic said.
Sracic predicts it could come down to the 2016 Presidential race and which party carries Ohio.
“It is all about timing. I think the timing’s right for Ted Strickland. He was a great governor. I am excited about his candidacy,” said Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras. “Elections go in waves. It ebbs and flows. One year, it is a Republican year, one year it is a Democratic year. I think the year of 2016 is going to be a Democratic year. And I think a lot of Democrats are going to get swept into office.”
Republican National Committee spokesperson Raffi Williams said in an emailed statement that voters rejected Strickland for a reason and it is “laughable” that he would seek another office.
“Ted Strickland is a failed former governor who is on the wrong side of the issues and lost because of it last time he ran,” Williams said.
Portman said in an emailed statement that he welcomes Strickland back to Ohio
“I look forward to a candid exchange of ideas during this critical time for so many in our state,” said Portman. “The coming months will give Ohioans an opportunity to contrast my vision for a better future for Ohio workers with his past tenure as governor when hundreds of thousands of jobs disappeared from our state.”