Strickland, Kasich debate watch parties sparsely attended

Jinae West and Jamie Shearer

Few people attended the watch parties for the televised debate between Gov. Ted Strickland and Republican candidate John Kasich Tuesday night in Kent.

A handful of students from the College Republicans, College Democrats and the Kent Political Union gathered in the basement of the Student Center to watch the first face-to-face gubernatorial debate, but by the end of the night, five remained.

At a separate watch party for Gov. Strickland at the Kent Democratic Coordinated Campaign Office, only two supporters showed.

The debate brought focus to the economy and how each candidate would help bring more jobs to Ohio. Kasich repeatedly said Strickland lost 382,000 jobs on his watch and raised taxes. Strickland countered that the income tax had been cut 17 percent since 2005 and revenue into the state had not diminished.

Strickland accused Kasich about his past job at Lehman Brothers and his tendencies to be “reckless and impulsive.” In turn, Kasich responded that he had helped create jobs by creating capital.

“We need people experienced in politics, but also in business,” Kasich said.

Bryan Staul, sophomore political science major, said he has complimented Kasich on past efforts but thinks the former congressman sounded like a broken record during the debate.

At the watch party for Strickland, the only two attendees were Whitney Grimes, a Portage County field officer who hosted the event, and Kent resident Bonny Graham.

The two sat, relatively quiet during the debate, and watched both candidates on a projected screen. Graham occasionally made a remark when Kasich spoke. When Kasich accused Strickland of raising taxes, Graham said he was a liar. When Kasich said he would promote job creation in Ohio, Graham said he funded jobs going overseas.

After the debate, Graham, 48, said she didn’t learn anything more about Kasich that would change her vote. She said unlike Strickland’s arguments that are backed up by what she has read in newspapers, Kasich’s information seemed inaccurate.

“I was put off by his theatrical mannerisms,” she said. “And sometimes the things he said were just plain wrong.”

While Graham said she was against Kasich’s plan to privatize the jobs program and didn’t trust his background as a Wall Street banker, she expressed disappointment that neither Kasich nor Strickland addressed the issue of health care.

The two candidates will face again in a televised debate Oct. 7 in Toledo.

Contact Jinae West [email protected] and Jamie Shearer [email protected]