Ohio’s Strickland — backed Hillary, fell in line for Obama; looking for a job

Democrat Ted Strickland lost his bid for reelection as Ohio’s governor last week. He wasn’t alone. The Ohio U.S. Senate seat went to Bushie Rob Portman; Republicans took five U.S. House seats from the Democrats; Republicans gained control of both houses of the swing state’s Legislature. The once-a-decade gerrymandering (er, redistricting), set to start next year, will do no favors for the Democrats. Oh, and the presumed next Speaker of the House — Cincinnati Republican John Boehner.

The state’s defeated Democrats will soon be cleaning out their desks. One wonders if Strickland still has the oversized HILLARY button he wore during the 2008 primaries, when he was fervently in her camp.

One also wonders if Strickland can’t help but ponder the thought, If only Hillary had won the nomination. He might then be on his way to a second term and vast influence in 2012, when Ohio, as always, will play a key role in presidential politics. (Had John Kerry won Ohio in ’04 — Obama won the state in ’08 — the senator from Massachusetts might still be president today.)

Whether Strickland held on to that campaign button, one souvenir that he’ll never be able to lose is the video of him, in February 2008, standing behind Hillary onstage at the Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, nodding his head nonstop as she gives the angriest-at-Obama performance of the primary season.

“So shame on you, Barack Obama. Enough with the speeches and big rallies and then using tactics that are right out of Karl Rove’s playbook.”

Writing about it back then, I dubbed Strickland Gov. Bobblehead and suggested that his “goofy performance” might have scotched his chances of being Obama’s running mate.  (Strickland, then a popular politician, was considered a wise choice given Ohio’s historical importance in the election of the president.)

President Obama has shown the wisdom and maturity to embrace not only Hillary but her supporters as well. He even came to Cleveland in the days before the election to try to give one last boost to Ted Strickland. The president’s presence worked in Illinois, where he pushed the hapless Gov. Pat Quinn over the finish line. It didn’t work in Ohio, where Strickland lost to Republican John Kasich by more than 97,000 votes. Then again, since Strickland became governor in 2006, Ohio has lost 400,000 jobs.

It’s reasonable to argue that blame for the jobs hemorrhage can be laid at the boots of George W. Bush. But Ohioans were having none of that. Kasich comes to the governor’s mansion from a stint at Lehman Brothers and a gig as a Fox News host. And the state’s new Republican senator, Rob Portman, was W’s director of the Office of Management and Budget. He crushed Democrat Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher by some 677,000 votes.

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