Ohioans can give thanks this week for at least one thing: Former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland has announced that won't be challenging incumbent John Kasich in 2014. During 2008 and 2009, Strickland's second and third years in office, the Buckeye State lost 420,000 jobs and saw its unemployment rate zoom from 5.7 percent to 10.6 percent, performances which were worse than nearly every other state in the union. In his final two years, the state ran billions in deficits which the rest of America covered by providing at least $4.8 billion in "direct relief" stimulus fuding. As he left office, Ohio faced an estimated $8 billion budget deficit and credit agencies downgraded its credit rating.
None of these facts about Ted Strickland's record got into Alexander Burns's Tuesday coverage of Strickland's decision at the Politico. Instead, readers were treated to a narrative which made Strickland's fundamentally deceptive attempt to keep his job in the 2010 election seem almost heroic (bolds are mine throughout this post):
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Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will not seek to reclaim his old job in 2014, saying in a statement Tuesday that he would “continue to stand with working men and women to build a stronger Ohio” but not as an elected official.
“Today I am announcing my decision not to seek election as governor of Ohio in 2014,” the Democrat said. “In many ways, this has been a very difficult decision. I look back fondly on my time as Ohio’s 68th governor — and am proud of my administration’s efforts to guide our state through the greatest national economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
“My administration was about positioning Ohio as a leader in our rapidly changing economy and global world,” Strickland continued. “In short, I believe my Administration stood and spoke for the causes that count. Frances and I will continue to be politically active private citizens.
... In 2010, Strickland nearly cut a path to reelection in a Republican wave year, campaigning on a combination of economic populism and slashing attacks on Kasich’s background as a congressman and Lehman Brothers banker.
Two years later, as a national co-chairman for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, the Ohio Democrat delivered some of the most memorable denunciations of Mitt Romney and helped keep the Buckeye State in the president’s column.
A Labor Day 2010 video captured the essence of Strickland so-called "economic populism." Here's some of what "populist Ted" had to say before a union audience:
The Republican Party has been overtaken by the zealots, by the extremists, by the radicals ... and they don’t seem to like Ohio very much, and quite frankly, they act as if they don’t like America very much.
They want to change our Constitution, they want to change Medicare ... they want to change this country …. and we say to them, “Hell no, we won’t!”
And so I ask you: Are you read to fight …. against the extremists? Are you ready to fight the Tea Party radicals? … Are you ready to fight John Kasich?
… What we are fighting against is Wall Street greed that brought our economy to the brink of total disaster.
As I wrote shortly after Strickland's unhinged rant:
Anyone who knows anything about the hidebound Ohio Republican Party would double over in laughter at any description of them as “extremists.” The ORP was so hostile to and felt so threatened by Tea Party insurgent candidates for statewide office and its Central Committee — candidates who would only be considered unwanted “extremists” by people who also believe this country’s Founders were — that it spent large sums of money on misleading Tea Party-pretentious campaign literature and on Election Day poll watchers who handed out slate cards to defeat them in the May primary.
Strickland's campaign against Kasich was premised on making Ohio voters believe that Kasich, who had no role whatsoever in Lehman's collpase, was the guy who was solely responsible for it, while acting as if people who thought the state should be living within its means and trying to grow the economy and not just the government were somehow the ones who were "radical" and "extreme."
That these tactics almost worked arguably encouraged Barack Obama's reelection team and its SuperPACS (not that they needed a great deal of it) to employ the same tactics against GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The distance from (in essence) "Kasich and Wall Street tanked the economy" to the long list of lies Obama and his allies propagated wasn't far.
Good riddance, Ted -- and shame on Alexander Burns for miscasting Strickland's record and his deceptive and thankfully unsuccessful 2010 reelection effort.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.