Republicans remain optimistic that the 2010 elections on Tuesday will earn them a majority of the Senate, House and gubernatorial seats across the country, but Democrats are resolute that voters will not abandon the party.
The storylines leading up to the elections have been predominantly about voters’ displeasure with their government’s spending, lost jobs and rumblings of politicians being out-of-touch with their constituents.
The Lantern chose four of the most important races in Ohio and the Columbus area to preview.
Strickland vs. Kasich
Like the majority of October polls, a Rasmussen survey released Thursday showed former Rep. John Kasich ahead of incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland. The numbers show a four-point lead for Kasich. According to the poll, 48 percent of likely voters in Ohio support Kasich, and 44 percent said they would vote for Strickland, a Democrat. Strickland has struggled to get above 45 percent in the polls.
Still, the gubernatorial election is shaping up to be a close race, in contrast to the 2006 blowout when then-Rep. Ted Strickland earned 60 percent of the vote over Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s 37 percent.
Since then, Strickland’s tour as governor has been less than ideal. He was criticized in 2007 when 64,000 Ohio State employees’ names and Social Security numbers were stolen from a backup data storage device in a 22-year-old intern’s car.
Furthermore, Ohio has lost about 400,000 jobs while Strickland was in office — a rallying figure for Republican Kasich’s campaign.
“Ted Strickland lost 400,000 jobs in Ohio and just sat on his hands during the worst economic crisis since the great depression,” said Rob Nichols, press secretary for Kasich, in an e-mail to The Lantern. “What Ted Strickland and President (Barack) Obama are doing isn’t working, and Ohioans are prepared to hold them accountable in November.”
When Obama was on the Oval at Ohio State on Oct. 17, Strickland made it clear to the estimated 35,000 attendees that jobs were already coming back to Ohio and, relative to the rest of the U.S., Ohio is in good shape.
Strickland’s campaign focuses on discrediting Kasich by pointing out his employment with the investment firm, Lehman Brothers. The firm went bankrupt on Sept. 15, 2008, which helped spur the collapse of the financial system.
Democrats have also accused Kasich of demanding inflated wages as a guest lecturer at OSU while he was serving in the Capitol.
Fisher vs. Portman
U.S. Senate Election
Democrat Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Rep. Rob Portman are vying for retiring Sen. George Voinovich’s Senate seat.
Portman has been dominating Fisher in the polls throughout much of October. A Rasmussen survey conducted Oct. 26 showed Portman with a 24 percentage point lead over Fisher. According to the poll, 57 percent of likely voters support Portman, while 33 percent would vote for Fisher.
Fisher and Portman both focus their campaigns on promises of more Ohio jobs, investing in renewable energy and opposing cap-and-trade, an economic incentive-based system for businesses that could lower pollution.
In a recent advertisement, Fisher suggests that voters from the Buckeye state might want to think twice before voting for Portman. Fisher, clad in an OSU sweater, standing in a stadium and holding a football, links Portman’s 20 years of service in Washington to “soaring deficits” and “jobs shipped to China.” He ends the ad by saying that “Rob Portman went to the University of Michigan,” and “Buckeyes deserve better than someone from ‘that school up north.'”
Fisher was born in Ann Arbor, Mich., but moved to Ohio with his family. He graduated from Oberlin College and Case Western Reserve Law School, both in Ohio.
Portman’s press secretary, Jessica R. Towhey, said in an e-mail to The Lantern that “Ann Arbor native Lee Fisher is desperate to change the topic from the 400,000 jobs lost under his watch in the last three years. Maybe he’s forgotten that Rob’s been teaching at The Ohio State University for the last three years, but Ohio voters won’t forget Lee’s failed record on Election Day.”
O’Shaughnessy vs. Husted
Ohio Secretary of State
Democrat Maryellen O’Shaughnessy is a former Columbus city councilwoman and current Franklin County clerk of courts.
Republican Jon Husted is a state senator in his 10th year in the legislature. He served as the state House speaker for four years.
The Ohio Secretary of State is in charge of elections in Ohio, but more importantly, in 2011, either O’Shaughnessy or Husted will hold a seat on the state board that will redraw legislative districts. In essence, either candidate will have the power to redraw the districts to benefit his or her party for future elections.
A poll early in October showed 40 percent of likely voters supporting O’Shaughnessy, and 33 percent backing Husted.
On O’Shaughnessy’s website, she writes, “I have a plan to improve the elections system, help the state’s economy grow, reduce general revenue spending on the office I seek, streamline operations, and restore trust and integrity in Ohio’s electoral system.”
The Ohio Elections Commission found Thursday that Husted made false claims about O’Shaughnessy.
The Ohio Democratic Party filed the complaint, which states that ads for Husted falsely declare that O’Shaughnessy voted to give herself a raise while a member of Columbus City Council and falsely say that she took a campaign contribution from indicted Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, according to the Dayton Daily News.
Husted is running on the platform of “restoring responsible smaller government, returning trust to our democratic process and renewing our commitment to freedom and values,” according to his website.
Stivers vs. Kilroy
Ohio 15th District
The 2010 race is a rematch of the 2008 congressional election in which Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy scratched out a 1 percentage point victory over Republican Steve Stivers.
Kilroy has proved to be a dependable Democratic vote in Washington and has been instrumental in many bills in Congress. Most notably, she has pushed for health care reform and extensive financial regulations. She also supported the economic stimulus package.
In political ads, Kilroy is quick to criticize Stivers for being a banking lobbyist for seven years.
Stivers says Kilroy is out of step with her moderate district and that the policies Kilroy has supported have failed.
A poll that came out in early October administered by The Hill, a congressional newspaper, showed 47 percent of likely voters chose Stivers, and Kilroy received 38 percent.