Debating the candidates

Week one: governor

Gubernatorial candidates Ken Blackwell and Ted Strickland agree on a number of points: Ohio’s economy is suffering, education needs to be reformed and health care costs must be kept in check. The similarities end there.

The Daily Kent Stater Editorial Board has compiled the following information about the two leading candidates for governor to assist you in making your decision. Except where noted, all information was gathered from the candidates’ Web sites.

Tomorrow is the last day to register to vote. Forms are available at the university library and the Daily Kent Stater business office, Taylor Hall 101. Election Day is Nov. 7.



Blackwell, 58, was born and raised in Cincinnati. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education at Xavier University. Later, he was vice president at Xavier and has also been an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and an ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Blackwell’s elected positions include mayor of Cincinnati and Ohio treasurer. He is currently Ohio’s secretary of state.

Running mate

Tom Raga is the Republican Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor. He is a three-term state representative and has a degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University. He was previously a trustee for Deerfield Township.

Economy and jobs

Blackwell’s biggest proposal is to lease the Ohio Turnpike to private investors who would run the toll road. He claims the plan would raise $4 billion to $6 billion, which would be invested in projects that could create jobs in the state.

Blackwell also wants to reduce taxes. His plan would set the income tax rate for all residents at 3.25 percent and eliminate estate taxes. He would also reduce the sales tax to 5 percent.

Reduced taxes, Blackwell says, will boost Ohio’s economy and create jobs.


Blackwell advocates a program called “The 65 Percent Solution,” which requires school districts to spend 65 percent of their budgets on classroom instruction. His campaign states that only 57 percent of funding currently is spent in the classroom. The proposal would make $1.2 billion in additional funding available in the classroom, he says.

Blackwell also wants to create a statewide board to examine primary and secondary education, and he would spend $500 million of funding from leasing the turnpike to target science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

He is also in favor of state tuition vouchers that college students could spend at any school.

Health care

Blackwell would require all Ohioans to have health care insurance. To achieve this, he would create a program to match uninsured residents with private insurance companies.

He also would implement Medicaid reform, create a prescription drug purchasing pool for state health programs and change regulations to allow young adults to stay on family insurance policies until age 29.

Other issues

Blackwell calls himself “pro-life” and “pro-marriage” on his Web site. He is airing commercials that show his opposition to same-sex marriage.

He is also a member of the National Rifle Association and supports concealed carry laws.

Criticism by opponent

Strickland has repeatedly linked Blackwell to the current Bob Taft administration, which has had its share of corruption charges. His campaign has called both “The 65 Percent Solution” and Ohio Turnpike plans “gimmicks.”



Strickland, 65, was born in Lucasville. He has a bachelor’s degree in history, a Master of Divinity and a doctorate in counseling psychology. Prior to politics, he was a minister, psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Shawnee State University.

He was first elected to Congress in 1992. In 1994, he lost his bid for re-election. In 1996, however, he regained his seat and has served as representative of the Sixth District since then.

Running mate

Lee Fisher is the Democratic Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor. Most recently, Fisher was president and CEO of the Center for Families and Children in Cleveland. He has held a number of elected positions, including Ohio Attorney General and state senator and representative.

Economy and jobs

Strickland’s plan calls for investing in clean energy initiatives, which could create jobs in Ohio. He also wants to bring high-speed Internet technology to every county in the state and provide free job training to businesses that create more than 20 jobs per year. Education and technology would make businesses more competitive, he says.

Strickland claims these programs can be implemented using already existing federal and state funds and money from the Third Frontier initiative.


Strickland favors the creation of student savings accounts. His plan would deposit $500 into an account for each student in the state with an additional $100 deposited each year until high school graduation. Students in low-income families would receive an additional $100 per year. This money could be spent at any Ohio higher-education institution.

Strickland would invest an additional $50 million in early-childhood education. He also wants to revise high school curricula and examine standardized testing.

Health care

Strickland wants to provide low-cost options for uninsured residents to voluntarily purchase their own health care insurance. He would also offer financial support to low-income people to purchase those plans. His administration would reach out to individuals already eligible for Medicaid and state programs who don’t take advantage of them.

Strickland’s plan has a prevention component that would seek to eliminate duplication in programs while reaching benchmarks for healthier Ohioans in areas such as obesity, diabetes and pregnancies.

Other issues

Strickland said he would veto any bill restricting access to abortions. He has, however, voted in favor of some abortion restrictions in Congress, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Strickland does not discuss same-sex marriage on his Web site, although he did vote against the constitutional amendment banning it.

He is also a member of the National Rifle Association and has been endorsed by the group.

Criticism by opponent

Blackwell’s biggest criticism of Strickland has been that the plans he offers for Ohio are vague and non-specific. His campaign also says that Strickland will have to raise taxes to pay for his programs.

The Daily Kent Stater Editorial Board endorses Democratic candidate Ted Strickland for governor of Ohio.

It’s time for a change in Ohio – Republicans have controlled the governor’s office for the past 16 years. And this state is not improving.

Blackwell is tied tightly to the current, corrupt administration. His handling of past elections – one of the secretary of state’s most important jobs – has been abysmal. Leasing the Ohio Turnpike to a private investor is a dangerous proposition. And cutting taxations – primarily for the wealthy, no matter what he says – appeases his donors and doesn’t help the vast majority of Ohioans.

We agree: Strickland is not the most dynamic candidate, and some of his plans do not seem to be completely formed. We’re also concerned that he won’t have the funds to pay for everything he proposes.

But he recognizes the value of education and that technology is our future. He and his running mate, Lee Fisher, understand the vast differences among citizens across the state. But they don’t seek to divide the way Blackwell does.

And unlike his opponent, Strickland appears to have the ability to grow. We’re sold on Ted Strickland.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater Editorial Board. One member of the board abstained from this discussion because he covers the election for a class.