So you want to be governor of Ohio? Here is my advice

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 26, 2005

Last week my old buddy Tommy told me he was considering running for governor of the great state of Ohio.

He bought me a cold one to get my advice on his campaign. Here is how the conversation went: "Well. Tommy, the first thing I can tell you is, don't run as a Republican."

"Why not, I kinda like elephants?" he said.

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"There really aren't any elephants around the election Tommy, and the Republicans have sort of run the state into the ground with the money they have lost in "questionable" investments."

"I know the governor isn't too popular, but you can't blame all the Republicans for the mistakes," Tommy countered.

"Good point, Tommy, but can't you sort of blame the state auditor, after all, isn't that job checking the books?"

"OK, buddy, I'll give you that one, but that's all," he said.

"Really? How about the state attorney General Tommy? If all that money has disappeared, and the taxpayers are out it, shouldn't someone be caught and prosecuted?

"Yeah, of course," Tommy conceded.

"Well then, you have to say the attorney general should have gotten that done," I asked.

"OK, OK, good point. Maybe I'll run as a Democrat then," Tommy said.

"Good start, Tommy, run as a Democrat."

"What would my slogan be? You gotta have a slogan," he said.

"Humm, how about, not a Republican? That might do it," I offered.

"Naw, I think I need something with more, you know, punch," responded.

"OK, Tommy, try this one: Let's take back our great state or the promise of Ohio can be ours again or Ohio can soar again."

"Yeah, I like those, they sound positive," he said.

"That's important Tommy, being positive. It's true that the state is in a mess, but we need a candidate gives us hope and optimism, not negative campaigning and moral silence," I told him. "And it's OK to show some passion about running. You need to believe you can be honest, ethical and lead with integrity. People want to know that the leader has a vision and a way to realize that vision. And, it has to be said, you have to promise to act ethically."

"Hey, this is great stuff buddy, what else ya got?" he asked.

"Well, Tommy, it's time we reinvent the vision of higher education in Ohio. Our college graduation rate is near the bottom (36th) of the states and our tuition rates are too high," I told him. "To attract businesses and jobs we need to do better. I think you would have to fix the education crisis."

"Got it, fix the education thing," he said. "Anything else buddy?"

"Tommy, everybody knows that small businesses drive growth, so you need to find a way to encourage small business as a top priority. I would name a small business cabinet position to get the ball rolling, and maybe a task force to make this the best state anywhere for small business."

"This is what I need. Am I ready now to run?" he asked.

"Maybe, Tommy, but you might want to address two other things. First, reach out to both parties and find good people who want to share their ideas," I said. "Find Republicans in Columbus and Cincinnati who can help."

"Be governor of all the people in Ohio. Second, the size of the state government has grown over the last decade, but not necessarily in the right places with the right programs. I think you need to revitalize state agencies and their dedicated staffs with new focus and direction. There are many talented people in these agencies who can lead more successfully with support from the governor's office.

"OK, Tommy, good luck, and let's talk again soon."

Dr. Jim Crawford is a professor at Ohio University Southern. He can be reached at