Strickland calls for ‘common sense solutions’

Democratic governor-elect Ted Strickland celebrates his win with his wife, Frances, at the Capitol Square Hyatt in Columbus yesterday. He holds a paper chain with names of volunteers who helped him get elected. PHOTOS COURTESY OF MCT

Credit: Steve Schirra

COLUMBUS — Putting his hands up to calm a packed ballroom of supporters, Ted Strickland began his acceptance speech.

“I want to begin by thanking every one of you for being here,” he said after the cheering and chanting of his name.

With a vote of 60 to 37 percent, Democratic candidate Strickland became Ohio’s new governor. A poll by The Associated Press predicted Strickland to be the winner by 8 p.m. last night. Strickland’s Republican opponent, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, conceded the election later in the evening.

In his concession speech, Blackwell told chanting supporters that he would not “ride into the sunset” after this political setback.

“Football coach Vince Lombardi used to tell people that his team never lost game, but that sometimes the clock ran out on us,” Blackwell said. “Well, tonight the clock ran out on us.”

Blackwell urged his supporters to work with the new Democrat-led state government, but also stressed holding onto their core beliefs.

“We must have a civil discussion with those who have been our loyal opposition,” he said.

The Governor’s Ballroom of the Hyatt on Capitol Square was standing room only for most of the night. Strickland supporters yelled and clapped every time they saw CNN project a Democratic candidate as a winner in the races. Children in Ted Strickland T-shirts walked around, holding their mothers’ or fathers’ hands.

“You know we won,” a supporter told his group of friends over drinks.

“Anyone want to mosh?” another asked, trying to make his way through the crowd.

“Age of Aquarius” by the 5th Dimension and “These Are the Days” by 10,000 Maniacs, songs of victory, played over speakers during CNN commercial breaks.

Jon Robertson, 24, wearing a Ted Strickland T-shirt, said he’s actually a registered Republican. He said he’s been with the Strickland campaign for more than two years, from fundraising to passing out buttons and T-shirts.

Because his fianc‚e worked for the campaign, he said he started to research Strickland and liked what he saw.

“Party lines don’t always matter,” he said. “It’s the right man for the job that counts.”

Robertson’s attitude is exactly what Strickland said he wants in his victory speech.

“Now is a time to put aside personal disagreements and come together,” he said.

Strickland said the issues of Ohio’s job market, education and affordable health care aren’t strictly Democratic or Republican issues.

Instead, he said, they will be “common sense solutions.”

He said the voters set a clear message they wanted change in this state, and he intends to give it to them. His plan, “Turn Around Ohio,” will respond to the issues and “make a difference in the lives of Ohioans.”

Strickland said he thinks by working with the people they can set Ohio in the right direction.

“I believe in the future of Ohio because I believe in the people of Ohio,” Strickland said.

Contact public affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].