chantal stone photography: the blog

July 27, 2006

On the Road to the Ohio Governor’s House, 2006: A Look at the Candidates

Filed under: Articles — chantal @ 12:49 pm

The 2008 Presidential election will likely be the most intensely debated and closely watched election in our US history. All other elections, both federal and state, leading up to 2008 will help to determine the outcome. One of the states leading the pack of ‘most watched’ is Ohio.

The 2006 Gubernatorial election for the state of Ohio could easily be the most closely watched election of this year. With Republicans occupying the seat for the past sixteen years, and dominating both houses of the state legislature and all statewide executive offices, the Democrats are determined to reclaim their position in Ohio politics. It doesn’t seem to be such an uphill battle, though, with incumbent governor, in his final term, Bob Taft having a meager 6% approval rating and the Republican Party losing support due to a declining economy and job losses.

The major issues facing the election this year will be the economy, education, and the social issues that seem to dominate and overshadow many other issues, including gay marriage.

There are four candidates on the ballot this year: Ken Blackwell (R), Ted Strickland (D), Bob Fitrakis (Green), and Bill Pierce (Libertarian). With the two major party candidates leading in the polls so far, let’s take a look at who these men are, and what they stand for.

Ken Blackwell is a social conservative from Cincinnati, currently serving as the Secretary of State. No stranger to scandal, and with several pending lawsuits against him, Blackwell won his party’s nomination with 56% of the vote. Critics of Blackwell claimed a conflict of interest with his role in the ’04 Presidential election, where Blackwell served as Chief Elections Officer while also being one of President Bush’s strongest supporter, which appeared to be a conflict of interest.

Born in Cincinnati in 1948, Blackwell attended Xavier University. He has an impressive political resume, including serving as the mayor of Cincinnati from 1979-1980, the undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1989 to 1990 under President George H.W. Bush, ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission from 1992 to 1993, and Ohio State Treasurer under Gov. George Voinovich in 1994.

Blackwell’s economic platform stands largely on the TEL (Tax and Expenditure Limitation) amendment, which proposes to limit increases in state spending to the inflation rate. He has been quoted saying that “state and local government in this state have been spending money like drunken sailors. And, the only difference between them and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money.” Blackwell insists that the implementation of TEL would help the state to operate on a balanced budget and would end the era of big government.

Critics of the TEL amendment believe it would place too heavy a burden on local governments and would limit and/or reduce funding for schools districts and libraries. Even the Republican Party of OH has tried to distance itself from the unpopular amendment, forcing Blackwell to assert that he would accept an equivalent proposal with less harsh effects to local economies.

With staunch support from religious leaders, Blackwell was the strongest Republican supporter of the proposed marriage amendment to the state’s constitution. Other Republican leaders, including Gov. Taft, have criticized the amendment for its vague language, fearing that it could possibly lead to a ban on all civil unions and domestic partnerships. Blackwell’s support of the amendment, however, has garnered him considerable support from evangelical African-Americans.

Blackwell’s education plan includes the proposed “65 Cent Solution” which requires that all Ohio school districts spend at least 65 cents of each education dollar on “in the classroom” instruction, subsequently increasing classroom spending, without raising taxes, by more than $1.2 billion statewide. The “65 Cent Solution” is a growing national movement with states such as Texas, Louisiana, and Kansas all adopting the legislation, and several other states, including Arizona, Washington, and Colorado considering the initiative on upcoming ballots.

Ted Strickland, the Democratic candidate, has been consistently leading the race to the governor’s house. He currently serves as a U.S. Representative for the sixth congressional district of Ohio. The Lucasville, Ohio native received his BA from Asbury College, a master’s degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, a MA from the University of Kentucky, and a doctorate degree in psychology, also from the University of Kentucky in 1980. He worked as a clinical psychologist and was also a professor of psychology at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, OH.

Strickland’s political resume includes a run for the US House of Representatives in 1976, ’78, and ’80, all losses. He ran again, in the 6th district, in 1992, where he won, but lost his seat in ’94 to Frank Cremeans. He won back his seat in ’96, winning re-election in ‘98, ‘00, ‘02, and ’04.

Strickland’s congressional voting record indicates a moderate Democratic position on most major issues concerning voters. He is on record as pro-Life, although does deem abortion a viable option if the mother’s life is in danger. He has voted in favor of stem cell research, against a permanent Patriot Act, and supports a Constitutional Amendment for equal rights based on gender. His voting record indicates a pro-gun rights position, as well as a pro public-Health voting record including a vote against denying non-emergency treatment due to lack of a medicare

Congressman Strickland’s platform lies largely on his “Turnaround Ohio” plan which includes providing quality early child care for all children, increasing access to higher education, building the state’s regional economies and globally competitive industries, retaining and attracting better jobs for Ohio workers, and providing affordable, high quality health-care for all families.

Two very different candidates, both Ken Blackwell and Ted Strickland share a vision for a better, stronger Ohio. Although the polls show the Strickland ticket in the lead, it’s still anyones game this early in the campaign. As the summer continues to heat up, so will the road to the Ohio Governor’s house.

An edited version of this article appears here, on BlogCritics.org.

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