reviewed / Kasich delivers first punch, Strickland swings back

Tony Lange

Higher education was one of many moot points during Thursday evening’s Ohio gubernatorial debate between Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland and Republican challenger John Kasich.


The one-hour debate took place at the University of Toledo’s Alumni Driscoll Center. It was the second of two scheduled face-offs between the main party candidates. Dennis Spisak, of the Green Party, Ken Matesz, of the Libertarian Party, and David Sargent II, a write-in, are the other competitors in the race for the state’s top executive position.

After Gayle Beck, editorial page editor of the Canton Repository asked her first question, the accusations flared. Beck was one of four panelists who probed the candidates.

Kasich blamed Strickland for raising taxes and held him responsible for Ohio’s status as one of the highest tax states. Strickland said that claim is false.

“I’m going to ask the fact checkers to check what the congressman just said because it isn’t accurate. I did not raise taxes. I kept them at their current level,” Strickland said. “What my opponent says he would have done is cut $851 million out of our colleges and out of our public education system.

“When we cut funding for higher education, tuition is going to go up,” Strickland said. “That’s going to cost mom and dad more money to educate their sons and daughters. You can’t spend money you don’t have and you can’t educate kids if you don’t have resources.”

In his rebuttal, Kasich accused Strickland of being asleep at the wheel.

“When you were elected governor, if you would have done what you promised, you would have created a government that was more effective and more efficient,” Kasich said. “Instead, what you did is raise spending. People are paying more because you changed the law and denied them tax cuts. He promised he was going to fix education. Well, it isn’t fixed. That ought to be a failure.”

Jerry Anderson, Emmy Award-winning anchor of WTOL-TV’s News 11, moderated the two former congressmen and kept a strict timeline. Each candidate was allowed a 90-second response and 30-second rebuttal.

After Kasich was cut off during his previous rebuttal, he continued his education talk during another response. Ohio is 46th in America in putting dollars in the classroom, he said.

“We must do everything we can to make Ohio number one in dollars in the classroom,” Kasich said. “We need to operate the schools more like a business.”

Strickland questioned his opponent’s higher education plans during the post-debate media conference.

“I don’t know what his higher education plan is, quite frankly. I don’t know that he has ever talked about a higher education plan,” Strickland said. “If he has, it certainly hasn’t come to my attention.”

Kasich did not answer questions from the media during his post-debate conference.

Contact reporter Tony Lange at [email protected].