Candidates vie for position of governor

Douglas M. Kafury

Democrats differ on abortion and education funds

Republicans have controlled Ohio’s governor’s chair since 1991. Two men seek to change that.

Former State Rep. Bryan Flannery of Strongsville and U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland of Lisbon will vie for Ohio’s top executive position in the Democratic Primary May 2.

Jess Goode, Strickland for Governor communications director, said Strickland is concerned with improving Ohio and isn’t focusing on one particular candidate. However, Flannery won’t be ignored.

On the issue of gun control, Strickland and Flannery both stand by the Second Amendment. However, Communications Director Anthony Fossaceca said Strickland supported two issues Flannery doesn’t believe in. Strickland voted against the Mandatory Gun Show Background Check Act in 1999, and he helped the NRA in its fight to lift a ban on assault weapons in Columbus.

Both candidates offer differing views on abortion. Flannery said he models himself after Catholic Democrats such as John F. Kennedy and is pro-life. Strickland, on the other hand, believes in a woman’s right to choose, Goode said.

Fossaceca said Flannery has been pushing his plan to revise Ohio’s school funding system since he was in the House of Representatives.

Flannery said his plan includes defining the cost of an education, relieving the tax burden on property owners for education costs and cutting the fat from the government to pay for education.

Flannery’s two prior attempts to get the plan on the ballot fell short, but he has made revisions and considers it the centerpiece to his campaign.

As a U.S. Representative, Strickland has co-sponsored the child health insurance program, which provides care to thousands of children who would not be able to afford it, and has helped pass legislation to provide health care and compensate workers who have been exposed to dangerous substances, Goode said.

The centerpiece of Strickland’s campaign is the Turnaround Ohio program. The program is a “cycle of success” that would begin by giving children quality education and broadening access to Ohio’s institutions of higher learning. That would lead to developing regional economies and stabilizing healthcare costs, and finally retain, create and attract jobs by focusing on growing industry sectors in Ohio.

Flannery, 37, currently serves as a healthcare consultant. He spent two terms as a state representative and served as a Lakewood city councilman. More recently, Flannery was defeated by J. Kenneth Blackwell in his 2002 bid for Secretary of State. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Strickland, 64, is currently serving in his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Asbury College, a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Kentucky. He has served as a minister, psychologist and a professor at Shawnee State University.

Flannery’s choice for lieutenant governor was an old teammate from college, Frank Stams. Stams earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Notre Dame. He currently serves as an insurance consultant, but he has never held a public office.

Strickland’s running mate, Lee Fisher, has held three statewide elected offices and lost narrowly in the general election in his 1998 bid for governor. Fisher has served in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly and spent one term as attorney general. He completed his undergraduate work at Oberlin College and received his law degree from Case Western Reserve Law School.

Contact public affairs reporter Douglas M. Kafury at [email protected].