With Strickland Slipping, Ohio Dems Launch Tour

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Democratic leaders are confident that reminding Ohio voters about what Ted Strickland did for them as governor will help counter negative impressions from the millions of dollars in outside ads aired against him in his race for U.S. Senate.

Ohio Democrats launched their stateside tour Tuesday at the United Auto Workers Local 1112 union hall. The morning press event featured David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio; Glenn Johnson, UAW Local 1112 president; and Rob Morales, UAW Local 1714 president. Each sought to draw a contrast between Strickland and the incumbent he is challenging, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.

For a time, polls showed Strickland tied or ahead of Portman. But as the race enters its final weeks, Portman has taken a substantial leads. According to the Real Clear Politics average of seven polls taken since July 18, Portman leads Strickland by 7.5 percentage points.

“Anyone in politics not named LeBron James or John Glenn would be down double digits after $43 million in attack ads,” Pepper said. “Ted Strickland is still within single digits.”

Strickland also has suffered political action committees pull back spending in Ohio to support his campaign. The Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to electing Democrats, announced Monday it has canceled $3 million worth of ads on behalf of Strickland through mid-October. The Ohio Republican Party reported the move brings the total in cancelled spending on Strickland’s behalf to $7 million.

“Campaign organizations are reflections of candidates, their records, and their successes or failures. Ted Strickland is running an awful campaign and losing support because he can’t hide from his failed record,” said Portman spokeswoman Michawn Rich.

Portman, who was elected in 2010, “is delivering results for Ohio families and has the support of thousands of volunteers across Ohio and over 30 college campuses,” she added. He also has “a broad base of support from both traditional Republicans” as well as the Teamsters, the Fraternal Order of Police and other labor organizations, she added.

The Democrats’ tour involves visits to locations where Strickland made “strategic investments to save jobs,” said Kirstin Alvanitakis, the Ohio Democratic Party’s communications director. Other stops on the tour this week include Sandusky, Toledo, Cincinnati and Dayton.

Strickland, who served as governor from 2007 to 2011 and in Congress, “has dedicated his life to fighting for hard-working Ohioans,” Pepper said. Strickland opposed trade deals that helped ship jobs overseas and supported the federal rescue of the automobile industry, “which is one reason you have three shifts” today at the nearby General Motors Lordstown Complex, he said.

“He has proven that his word is his word and he walks the walk as he talks the talk,” Local 1112’s Johnson said.

As governor, Strickland extended $82 million in tax credits to GM to help the Lordstown plant secure production of the Chevrolet Cruze, Johnson pointed out. “We in the UAW have always believed in supporting those who have supported us. Ted’s been there for us in the past and now it’s our turn to support him,” he said.

Strickland’s time as governor coincided with the Great Recession, Johnson continued, and he did “some things that were unpopular” to preserve jobs and services such as safety forces. Ads have criticized Strickland for draining the state’s “rainy day” fund.

Strickland “didn’t go after local government funds” or go after school funds, Pepper said. “If you go back and actually look closely at the work that Ted Strickland did in the middle of the worst recession in decades, he made investments that actually helped Ohio start to rebound even before he stopped being governor,” he added.

Local 1714’s Morales hit Portman on remarks he made characterizing the federal auto rescue as a “lousy deal for Ohio.”

Portman is “always looking out for the wealthy and well connected at the expense of working families,” he said. The Republican is “cut from the same fabric” as GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who opposed bailing out the auto industry and said GM and Chrysler “should be thrown into bankruptcy.”

The auto rescue was “a judgment moment,” Johnson said. “You had some people that were for it and others like Rob Portman who said it was a bad deal, and now you are seeing that play out.”

On a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Portman disputed the contention that he opposed the auto rescue and asserted he would have voted for it if he had been in the Senate at the time.

“It was necessary,” Portman said, although he added that he expressed concerns about the job losses, plant closings and dealership closings in Ohio that. “I would like to have seen us negotiate a better deal for Ohio,” he added.

In addition to advocating for the auto rescue, Ryan pointed to Strickland’s role in establishing Eastern Gateway Community College in the Mahoning Valley and providing state assistance that encouraged construction of Vallourec’s $1 billion pipe mill in Youngstown.

“We’ve got to get Ted Strickland in the Senate. Ohio will be much better off but our community will not be forgotten,” he said. “We need that. We need every advocate.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.