Petro, Strickland best choices for governor

Today, members of the two major parties will be heading to the polls for their respective primaries to choose candidates for the upcoming general election. The one race that appears to have been the most contentious during this primary season is the one to replace outgoing Gov. Bob Taft.

On the Republican side the two candidates, Attorney General Jim Petro and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, have held one of the most contentious, and certain to be narrowly decided, campaigns in recent memory – from Petro coming right out and calling Blackwell a hypocrite to Blackwell painting Petro as being a liberal as well as a “flip-flopper.”

If one didn’t know any better, one would get the impression from these ads that Petro and Blackwell were the general election candidates and the Democrats didn’t even have a nominee.

While both candidates have run a nasty campaign, when one looks at the issues it becomes clear that one candidate is more qualified for the job. While Blackwell’s staunchly conservative social views have endeared him to his party’s right wing, the simple truth of the matter is that his support for the reckless and dangerous TEL amendment, which would hamper state governance for years to come, makes giving him even the Republican nomination dangerous.

Furthermore, while both candidates are socially conservative, Blackwell’s overt gay-bashing in 2004 and currently in an attempt to make political hay is rather unsettling.

Therefore we are forced to give a hesitant endorsement to Petro. While his feet are dragging, and the”investigation” into the “coingate” scandal is quite worrisome; he has shown himself to be a generally capable administrator over his 12 years in state government. This is not the case with Blackwell who as secretary of state has had numerous problems with voting irregularities, albeit problems caused seemingly by incompetence, not malice. Also we believe Petro would at least be an improvement over the current governor, something we can’t honestly say about Blackwell.

On the Democratic side, the race is much more anti-climatic. Since both Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and 2004 Senate Nominee Eric Fingerhut dropped out, Congressman Ted Strickland has had to deal with only token opposition from former State Rep. Bryan Flannery. Since Strickland currently has a 72-point lead according to the latest Columbus Dispatch poll, it appears that his receiving the Democratic nomination is all but certain.

However, we’re endorsing Strickland not simply out of a sense of inevitability or even electability, but because he has far out -classed Flannery, who has resorted to flinging bizarre, far-fetched claims that Strickland has hired sexual offender, during this campaign.

Granted, he has only had to play prevent defense to keep a major upset from happening, but we also believe the center-left Democrat from Appalachia to be a breath of fresh air, especially compared to both the 16-year GOP domination of the state government and the usual Ohio Democratic Party incompetence.

While we’ll leave the general election endorsements to the new editorial board, both Strickland and Petro would keep Ohio from slipping any further. Sadly, now that’s a good enough reason to endorse.

The above is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board..