In Ohio, Gov. Strickland bitterly attacks challenger John Kasich 

I guess when your track record stinks to high heaven, it's the only place to go to try to score campaigning points.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who has presided over the state since January 2007, during which time its unemployment rate has roughly doubled to its current 11%, decided yesterday that the issue Buckeye State voters will be most interested in when they go to the polls in the fall will be GOP challenger's John Kasich's eight-year employment at Lehman Brothers, which ended over 18 months ago.

As reported by Reginald Fields at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

... the Democratic incumbent on Wednesday used his first major campaign speech of the year to go on the attack, painting a picture of former Republican Congressman John Kasich for voters. And the portrait was less than flattering.

... Strickland, who does not usually go negative in campaigns, nearly used his entire 25-minute speech to accuse Kasich of being an out-of-touch Wall Street tycoon whose most recent job was with Lehman Brothers, the failed banking giant whose 2008 collapse helped trigger a national recession.

And Strickland said Kasich is ducking media questions and trying to distance himself from his record in Congress for supporting trade agreements that hurt Ohio jobs before he went on to reap the rewards of Wall Street at Lehman from 2001 to 2008.

Lord have mercy. Setting aside Fields' howler about how Strickland "does not usually go negative," it's as if Ohio's current chief executive thinks that the race is for Governor of Lehman instead of Governor of Ohio.

In May of last year, here is how the Associated Press described John Kasich's performance when he was last involved in national governance:

Kasich, a 9-term Congressman from Ohio, was the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Budget Committee in 1997 that balanced the nation's budget for the first time in more than 30 years. He said that budget paid down the largest amount of debt in American history.

Yes, the AP was observing the obvious, namely that Kasich was a major player in creating the flush federal budgets of fiscal 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001.

This happened without tax increases. In fact, a major element of the federal government's fiscal turnaround was a 1997 capital gains tax cut.

Ohio under Strickland has been reduced to begging the administration in Washington for a bailout. Even that wasn't enough, as late last year (with the help of lapdog Republicans in the Ohio Senate), Strickland increased income taxes retroactive to January 1, while dishonestly portraying the exercise as a "tax cut delay." Sadly but predictably, Ohio's media played along.

During Strickland's term, Buckeye State residents have also seen the personal information of hundreds of thousands disappear without a trace, chronically late financial reports, a faith-based initiatives director who was arrested and imprisoned for running a prostitution ring, and drug-dealing by inmates selected to help out at the Governor's Mansion. In true Clintonian tradition, we've even seen the governor tell us that a subordinate wasn't really lying under oath when she was really lying under oath.

As to the relevance of Strickland's "argument" about Kasich's stint at Lehman, the GOP candidate has frequently said, "Blaming me for Lehman Brothers is like blaming a car dealer in Zanesville for the collapse of General Motors."

If I were Ted, I'd be attacking Kasich too, because no other credible arguments are available. "Kasich-Lehman" is probably all we'll hear until November. It's hard to see how it will work.

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Tom Blumer

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