Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland announced in a statement this morning that he is running for the United States Senate. I posted last month about the possibility of a Strickland challenge to Sen. Rob Portman and the role the Clinton campaign may be playing in making it happen.
The announcement comes after a series of hints that Strickland would jump in the race. When Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld declared his candidacy on January 22, Strickland said he was “strongly considering” running. A week later, it was reported by David Skolnick in the Youngstown Vindicator that sources close to Strickland said he was in. Then it was confirmed he had already begun fundraising. Finally, last week, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he left his post with the Center for American Progress.
The question now becomes, how long will Sittenfeld stay in the race? As Roll Call pointed out yesterday, many Ohio Democrats don’t believe he’ll last long. Congressman Tim Ryan and State Representative David Leland were both quoted saying they did not believe there will be a primary. If he chooses to stay in, it will be an interesting dichotomy between the 30-year-old Sittenfeld and 73-year-old Strickland, likely raising questions among Democrats about the direction of the party.
Sen. Portman’s 40% approval rating in a recent Quinnipiac Poll surely didn’t discourage Strickland, although it’s tough to gauge Strickland’s electoral strength at this point. In 2006, he won the race for governor with an impressive 60% of the vote, but the political environment was strongly favorable. In 2010, despite having the advantage of incumbency, he lost to current Gov. John Kasich 49-47%. The political environment was highly unfavorable that year though, and he actually fared better than many of the other statewide Democratic candidates. This race will be the first time he’ll run statewide in a presidential year.
At the very least, he has high name ID and will have no issues raising money, which are two problems that plagued statewide Democratic candidates last year.