Race for governor boils down to Ohio economy

Bryan Wroten

The candidates for governor of Ohio have one thing in common: They all promise change.

That’s pretty much where it ends.

Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland represent the two major political parties. Lawyer Bob Fitrakis and professor Bill Peirce are running as third party candidates.

The main issues discussed by the candidates are Ohio jobs and its economy, education and health care.

Jobs and Economy

Republican candidate Blackwell wants to make Ohio more business friendly by reforming current regulatory policies, spokesman Rob Scott said.

“As we compete in the regional economy, we must take steps to make Ohio more attractive to job creation and entrepreneurial risk taking,” Blackwell said in a press release. “Providing industry with streamlined and predictable regulatory standards will make our state a smart choice for businesses seeking to relocate or expand.”

Scott said the current policies scare away possible investors, such as a Honda plant. He said the car company was considering a couple sites in Ohio and Indiana. The plant could have created jobs for Ohioans, he said, but Honda chose Indiana.

Democratic candidate Strickland said he doesn’t want to change current taxes because he wants to let recent tax reforms have a chance to take effect.

Instead, he said he wants to put money into alternative energy sources. Ohio is the third largest user of ethanol of all the states, he said.

“It would make us less dependent on foreign sources of energy,” Strickland said.

Isaac Baker, a spokesman for Strickland, said Strickland also wants to spur entrepreneurship through on the local and regional levels. He said shifting money from Columbus to the regional economies would let small businesses make their own decisions.


Baker said tuition for four-year colleges in Ohio is higher than 42 percent of the nation’s schools. Two-year schools are 52 percent higher than the rest of the country, he said.

“It’s pretty sobering,” he said.

He said Strickland wants to create $500 savings accounts for students in Ohio. He said the accounts would be open for contributions from sources other than the state and would be tax-free.

In a somewhat similar plan, Blackwell plans to have funding follow the student rather than go directly to the schools.

“Why is the university offering housing?” Scott asked. “Why not leave that to the private sector? It’s a good way to shed some costs.”

Health Care

There are 3 million uninsured Ohioans, Scott said. Blackwell’s “Buckeye Health Plan” would provide coverage individually, through an employer or through the state.

Strickland is looking at other states and their health care systems to see which could be adapted to Ohio. He said a federal Medicaid waiver would increase flexibility within the system.

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

Governor of Ohio

Name: Ken Blackwell

Party: Republican

Age: 58

Residence: Cincinnati

Running Mate: Tom Raga

Political Experience: Mayor of Cincinnati (1979-1980), undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development for George H.W. Bush administration (1989-1990), Ohio State Treasurer (1994-1998), Secretary of State (1999-present)

Quote: (In reference to Ohio’s regulatory policies) “We’ve put too many obstacles in the way, and we must cut our taxes.”

Name: Ted Strickland

Party: Democrat

Age: 65

Residence: Lucasville

Running Mate: Lee Fisher

Political Experience: U.S. Representative (1992-1994), U.S. Representative (1996-present)

Quote: “I think we’ve had a political leadership that has absolutely been asleep at the wheel for the past decade and a half.”

Name: Bob Fitrakis

Party: Green

Age: 50

Residence: Columbus

Running Mate: Anita Rios

Political Experience: None

Quote: In reference to the relationship between the job market and education, Fitrakis said, “Nobody will move into areas with an unskilled workforce.”

Name: Bill Peirce

Party: Libertarian

Age: 67

Residence: Cleveland

Running Mate: Mark Noble

Political Experience: None

Quote: “If I could get half the votes of the disaffected and the cynical, I’d win by a landslide.”