Sunday, June 28, 2009
HAS OHIO'S "DUCK RUN" GOVERNOR BECOME OHIO'S "DUCK & RUN" GOVERNOR?
Yours truly was impressed with Ted Strickland in terms of his "apparent" humility, accessibility and responsiveness when he ran for governor in 2006.
He may still have his humility on a "personal" level, but he is not accessible to the average guy and gal and he certainly is not responsive in June, 2009 at the same standard he possessed in pre-November, 2006. Strickland has been taken over by Columbus politics, politicians and statewide by the likes of Stark County's Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (former head of the Stark County Democratic Party).
Because the Republicans are likely to run Wall Street (financial crisis) connected John Kasich (a former congressman, as is Strickland), chances are that Strickland will be re-elected. But to what end?
The way he is heading, Strickland is likely - by the end of his second term in 2014 - to rival past Republican governor Bob Taft in terms of his in-state popularity. It hard for people to see now. But recent political events demonstrate with disturbing regularity that the mighty can fall fast indeed.
However, he does have time to right the ship. Doing so, will necessitate getting away from his excessive reliance on political professionals and following his heart-felt instincts he learned as a boy growing up in Duck Run.
It is understandable that he was grateful to Maier when he, as the first county Democratic Party chairman, endorsed him. When it became apparent that Maier and his ilk had Strickland's ear, then the Strickland fall began.
The SCPR first developed questions about Stricklands sincerity in tackling the many difficult problems that Ohio faces on the basis of a conversation he had with yours truly's spouse at the John Boccieri coming out for congress in North Canton.
She quizzed him hard and persistent about getting going on fixing Ohio's public education infrastructure. His core response: "I'm keeping my powder dry."
Well, fast forward some two years down the road, Strickland's powder is getting so dry that it is evaporating before our very eyes.
Now we hear he is embracing gambling (slots at the racetracks) after opposing gambling in the first 30 months of his tenure. And, he and his allies in the Ohio General Assembly, are taking it out of the public accountability realm by putting into the state budget bill to provide political cover to legislators who - whether honestly or not - can say "I would never have voted allow the slots, but I had to vote for the budget.
Even Strickland can say, "I have always opposed gambling as being a unsound revenue source for government, but I could not veto the budget bill to get at the gamb ling thing."
Months ago his administration conceived a plan to raise taxes by raising fees ($236 million's worth). The sin? Trying to make out that fee increases are not tax increases.
Strickland knows that Republicans jump all over Democrats as being "taxers and spenders" merely by virtue of being Democrats. Despite the clear need to suspend state tax reductions and to do an "no holds barred" analysis of whether or not the Republican sponsored tax reform of five years ago is the ultimate answer to Ohio's revenue woes, he sits and watches.
Is this another case of "keeping one's powder dry?"
There are other instances that the SCPR could bring up as more evidence that Ted Strickland is a changed man - for the worse; even assuming the "man from Duck Run" was somewhat of a fairytale or mirage from the get-go.
It is becoming more and more clear that the idyllic man from Duck Run is well on his way to being a "duck and run" politician that Stark Countians and Ohioans know all too well.
As long as he holds court with the consummate political pros who hang out in Columbus and Tuscarawas Township, Ohio; there is little hope that Ohio will rebound during a second Strickland term.
So governor, what should we expect: "a genuine man from Duck Run, or a "duck and run" politician hanging out with the fellowship of the political cognoscenti?