Strickland opts not to run for governor in 2006

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

Even as legislative battles continue in Columbus, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland (D-6th) has decided the real war will be waged in Washington D.C.

Strickland announced Tuesday that he will not run for Ohio governor in 2006 because he feels it is of utmost importance to continue the struggle in the nation's capital in a war whose casualties will be the American people.

"I believe that if there is no opposition in Washington, the leadership will take us to the point of no return," Strickland said via conference call, citing problems with Social Security, the war in Iraq, outsourcing, veteran's issues, education funding and health care.

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"… I believe that we are engaged to fight for the heart and the soul of our country. I feel strongly about continuing to engage this fight through my Congressional office."

The Congressman went on to talk about the importance of focusing on the national battle ahead rather than being torn between his duties and a campaign.

"I think the political battle of our lifetime will be waged in Washington D.C., especially when it comes to Medicare," he said.

"… During the early months of 2005, we will be making decisions that could forever change the social fabric of our country."

The Lucasville native that represents more than 630,000 people in 12 southern Ohio counties had mulled the idea for the past year and said he wanted to make his decision public as soon as possible.

Strickland began his sixth two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives this month and said he will likely seek that office again in 2006. However, he did not close the door on a U.S. Senate bid.

The 6th District now includes Athens, Belmont, Columbiana, Gallia, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Noble, Scioto and Washington.

Ironton attorney Mark McCown, secretary/treasurer for the Lawrence County Democratic Party, called the news bittersweet.

"Absolutely there are mixed feelings. He would have made an exceptional governor but as always we are excited to keep him as our representative in the U.S. Congress," McCown said. "He has been a very effective Congressman and the best advocate for this region that we have ever had. It is nice to have a 'hometown' guy sitting in the capital."

Calling financial concerns a minor factor, Strickland said it was the people of the 6th District that helped make the decision to stay an easier one.

"I care about the people I represent I truly do," he said. "I do everything I can to show that caring."

Strickland said he believes that the Democratic Party will still find strong candidate for the office.

"I really believe that Ohio is in a position where people are looking for answers, people are looking for leadership," he said. "… If I truly felt that the Democratic Party couldn't produce a strong candidate, I think I would have felt an absolute obligation to make a different decision"

Democratic candidates that have been mentioned include Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, former Cleveland-area Congressman Dennis Eckart, TV personality Jerry Springer and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-13th), who Strickland said would make a tremendous candidate.

Gov. Bob Taft cannot run again because of term limits. Republican candidates could include Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, Attorney General Jim Petro and state Auditor Betty Montgomery.