I’ll admit it. I’m skeptical that Ted Strickland will really run for Governor in a rematch come 2014. Maybe because it’s just the novelty of it. Maybe it’s because Ted had told so many people publicly last year that it would be his “last election.”
But the more I see of Ted (from afar), the more it starts to make sense. After all, he only lost by some 70,000 in what will likely be the high water mark for GOP turnout advantage in Ohio for the foreseeable future. November 2010, so far at least, appears to be the high water mark for Kasich’s popularity who now finds himself with a lower approval rating among REPUBLICANS than Ted Strickland had at this point in his term, Strickland left office with an approval rating 50% larger than Kasich had coming into office, and the latest PPP polls Strickland CRUSHING Kasich in a rematch at margins similar to how Strickland crushed Ken Blackwell in 2006. From a strictly public opinion standpoint, Strickland would be the most likely Democrat to capitalize on the “buyers’ remorse” we’ve been seen in Ohio political pubic opinion polling since Kasich won the election.
Yesterday was the official unveiling of the Strickland portrait that will hang in the Statehouse. The topic of a potential rematch came up, according to the Columbus Dispatch:
But after the event, he told reporters he’s not "ruling out anything in the future" when questions arose about the possibility of challenging Gov. John Kasich in 2014.
"Like I’ve said on numerous occasions, life is good for me," Strickland said. "I worry about so many people who are finding it very, very difficult because of the economy. As I’ve said, life unfolds and I try not to predict the future."
Also, these events are typically treated non-partisan. For example, despite beating up on his Administration during his campaign (it was essentially a centerpiece of the ‘06 Strickland gubernatorial campaign,) Governor Strickland sent his wife Frances to attend the official unveiling of Governor Bob Taft’s portrait while Strickland was traveling on State business.
Governor Kasich, on the other hand, didn’t send anyone:
Kasich was invited to attend the event but declined, citing other scheduled meetings, spokesman Rob Nichols said.
Stay classy, Johnny.
The real reason Kasich didn’t attend is because he didn’t want to be forced to have to say something nice about Strickland who Kasich is still seething over the attacks of the campaign. Also, Kasich doesn’t want any stories that compare the two so long as Kasich continues to have sub-Strickland approval ratings, even among Republicans. Kasich doesn’t want a press cycle in which he seems to seems unable to emerge from under Strickland’s shadow.
Could there be a Kasich-Strickland rematch in 2014? I still don’t know, but I admit I’m really starting to believe so. If Kasich ever manages to substantially bring public opinion in Ohio around, then probably not. But with a likely SB 5 repeal this November, Kasich is really going to have to rehabilitate his image to avoid what could be dubbed the “do-over election.”