Here are the stories catching our attention today in the wide world of Ohio politics. Questions? Suggestions? Email me or find me on Twitter: @henryjgomez
Kasich returns to TV: Watch for Gov. John Kasich’s stealth re-election campaign to move out into the open this week. The Republican has bought time on at least one Cincinnati television station and requested time on at least one other.
More markets will follow, writes Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch.
The Kasich team has not formally announced anything. But we found this new 30-second spot Monday on the campaign’s website. It’s called “Then and Now.”
The voiceover begins: “Four years ago our economy was broken. Ohio had an $8 billion budget deficit. We were losing jobs. Taxes were rising. Hope was fading. John Kasich took office, made the tough calls and today Ohio is on a better path.”
If this is indeed the third Kasich TV spot, it’s the third positive one that avoids any mention of Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald. Kasich is continuing with his preferred theme – that he’s been a good fiscal and economic steward. What the ad does not mention is that the unemployment rate already was rebounding under Democratic predecessor Ted Strickland, who presided during a brutal recession.
Jobs numbers, explained: Speaking of economic indicators, Olivera Perkins of The Plain Dealer strips out the politics and takes a look at Ohio’s recovery. Her lead: The state has yet to regain some 120,000 jobs lost since the recession began.
Women’s group endorses Neuhardt for LG: The Women’s Campaign Fund, which bills itself as a nonpartisan advocacy group, has endorsed Democrat Sharen Neuhardt for lieutenant governor. Neuhardt, a women’s rights activist, lawyer and twice-failed candidate for Congress, is running on FitzGerald’s ticket.
“Women’s Campaign Fund is thrilled to support Sharen Neuhardt in her race to become Ohio’s next woman Lieutenant Governor,” said the group’s Clare Bresnahan. “Sharen and Ed FitzGerald’s demonstrated commitment to standing up for Ohio women and their families makes them the most qualified candidates to lead the Buckeye state. Following three years of Gov. Kasich’s relentless war on women, it’s time for new leaders in Columbus who will stand up for all Ohioans.”
Neuhardt’s opposite number also is a woman: GOP incumbent Mary Taylor. And, yes, the Women’s Campaign Fund does endorse Republicans. The group is backing U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in her re-election bid this year.
The group also has endorsed Nina Turner, the Democratic challenger for Ohio secretary of state, and Connie Pillich, the Democrat running for state treasurer.
Salt in the wound: Here’s a headline-byline combo that will give heartburn to Democratic attorney general hopeful David Pepper: “Ohio leads the way on breaking through the rape kit backlog.” The co-authors of this Washington Post guest column? Republican AG Mike DeWine, whom Pepper is challenging, and Democrat Timothy J. McGinty, the prosecutor in Democratic-rich Cuyahoga County.
Pepper has heavily criticized DeWine’s performance on rape kits. His campaign is emphasizing this recent Toledo Blade editorial, which credited DeWine’s efforts while expressing interest in Pepper’s plan for reducing the backlog.
Is State Rep. Anne Gonzales in jeopardy of losing her seat? Libertarians unsuccessful in efforts to place a candidate in the race for governor may settle for a moral victory at the legislative level. Republican Rep. Anne Gonzales of Westerville faces challenges from Democrat Michael Johnston and Libertarian Chad Monnin.
The GOP is worried about Monnin’s presence in the race, apparently to the point where the presumptive incoming House speaker got involved, reports Jim Siegel of the Dispatch. Monnin is a former Ohio GOP operative and is sparing little expense. “I believe anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” Monnin tells Siegel.
A dish best served cold: No Democrat in Ohio wants to hear comparisons to 1994, a year the party was rolled statewide. But Bertram de Souza of the Youngstown Vindicator harkens back to a post-election phone message left for Harry Meshel, then state party chairman, from Chris Redfern, future state party chairman.
The message: Resign.
De Souza wonders whether Meshel will get to return the favor.
Clearing out the Suarez cache: The extended holiday weekend brought some final, thoughtful reads on the Ben Suarez campaign finance case, which ended a week ago with the North Canton businessman convicted only of witness tampering.
So, to catch you up on things …
Prosecutors failed to prove that Suarez knowingly and willingly broke the law, jury foreman Andy Ramos told The Plain Dealer’s James F. McCarty.
The trial does not answer all questions for State Treasurer Josh Mandel, whose intervention Suarez sought – and received – in a California legal matter.
“If there is no link between the letters and the Suarez donations, why was [Mandel campaign fundraiser Scott] Guthrie – and not a treasurer’s office employee – tasked with writing the letters Suarez sought?” write Vardon and Darrel Rowland of the Dispatch.
As for the political ramifications, those close to Mandel continue to take comfort in the complicated nature of the Suarez case. In an interview with the Toledo Blade’s Tom Troy, Republican operative Terry Casey insists it will be tough for Mandel’s re-election opponent, State Rep. Connie Pillich, to make hay. Casey’s comments mirror what he told me last week when he called to speak on Mandel’s behalf.