Friday, January 27, 2006

Strickland taps Lee Fisher for LG; Blackwell Might Go With Raga


Leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate and US Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) tapped former Ohio Attorney general and 1998 Democratic gubernatorial candidates Lee Fisher (D-Cleveland) as his running mate for Governor. Fisher is currently director of the Center for Families and Children (?) in Cleveland. Fisher served as Ohio Attorney general from 1991 to 1995 before being defeated in the 1994 general election by Betty Montgomery. Fisher is also the last Democrat in Ohio to run a semi-competitive gubernatorial race in Ohio, losing to then Secretary of State Bob Taft, 50%-45%. Fisher served in the State Senate and State House before being elected Attorney General. Fisher is the first former gubernatorial candidate to later run for Lt. Gov.

Another piece of gossip circulating through the press concerning Lt. Gov. choices involved the Blackwell campaign potentially choosing St. Rep. Tom Raga (R-Mason) as Blackwell's running mate.

Analysis: I suppose Fisher brings marginal statewide experience to the Strickland campaign (don't get me wrong, Strickland desperately needs that) but not as much as he needs to play to the minority groups in Ohio that vote solidly Democratic. In other words, Strickland basically needed to pick an African-American. Obviously, racial "diversity" is an important characteristic of a statewide ticket to DNC Chairman Howard Dean (see the Skyes' article below), and Strickland went with an uninspiring choice if not potentially disastrous choice with Lee Fisher. Indeed, there already appears to be discontent within Democratic circles of Strickland choosing Fisher for LG. Steve Reece, who ran for Ohio Democratic Chairman last month and is the father of former Vice Mayor of Cincinnati Alicia Reece, seemed upset of the choice based on racial diversity. Referring to Democratic candidates in the primary he said, "Minorities can't be governor. They can't be lieutenant governor. They can't be treasurer. They can't even be secretary of state."
All St. Sen. Eric Fingerhut has to do to make this primary suddenly competitive is convince a leading African-American in the state (Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, to name a few) to join his ticket and Fingerhut suddenly has a message of his candidacy representing the racial "diversity" many Democrats are apparently craving, partricularly the minority groups that vote straight-ticket Democrat. Not to mention the lack of geographical diversity on the ticket (which I personally feel is more important in a gubernatorial election). Fisher is from Northeastern Ohio (Cleveland area) and really doesn't bring much to the campaign in terms of Cleveland votes. Fingerhut and Flannery are going to dominate the Cleveland vote in the Democrat primary, being from that area and all. Fisher's name won't even be on the ballot in the Democrat primary in early May.
This lack of geographical diversity also calls into question Blackwell's probable choice of Tom Raga, whose district is in suburban Cincinnati (Mason) and is basically a safe GOP seat that probably is going to be won by Blackwell overwhelmingly in the GOP primary, again being from that area. Petro's original LG choice of Heimlich was so strong because it united two leading Republicans from northern and southern Ohio. Blackwell needed to tap a LG running mate from northern Ohio or at least the Columbus area. Also for sheer political and public perception issues, I think Blackwell should choose a woman. I think it could act to counterbalance claims of him being an uber-conservative who is too ideological to be governor, perhaps not someone as moderate as Former Lt. Gov. Nancy Hollister (R-Marietta) but perhaps someone like my St. Rep. at home in the Cleveland area, Sally Conway Kilbane (scratch that suggestion Kilbane apparently has a lesbian daughter who would end up being placed in the barn) or maybe even wait and see if Rep. Deborah Pierce (R-Upper Arlington) might be interested in the switch and getting out of Washington, especially since her future in the leadership position of Chairwoman of the Republican Conference has recently been called into question by fellow Republican members of Congress.
With all that said, I feel like gubernatorial candidates should wait until after the primary to choose Lt. Gov. running mates anyway, they don't bring much to a primary election and a Lt. Gov. choice whose candidate ends up losing is forever politically damaged.

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