In an election cycle where so many Democrats are running away from President Obama, Ohio's Democratic Governor Ted Strickland has unflinchingly embraced Obama from the beginning. And the White House and Democratic establishment have gone to the mat for Strickland.
But for Team Obama, this is not an act of altruism. They know Ohio, even though it may lose two electoral votes, will be crucial in 2012. They know their chances of carrying the state are drastically improved with a friendly governor. And they know how important Strickland can potentially be for them during redistricting. Democrats are looking at a horrible election night this Tuesday. But winning the gubernatorial race in Ohio would be a huge victory--and relief--for the White House. In fact, though Team Obama may not admit it, they probably care as much about this race, along with Florida's gubernatorial contest, as any this cycle.
Strickland's opponent is John Kasich. Kasich, an instrumental behind-the-scenes figure in the 1994 Republican revolution. As the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, his floor speeches leading up to that election inspired people to become Republicans and some to even run for Congress. Once the GOP got control of Congress, Kasich, as chairman of the Budget Committee, presided over a historic surplus and balanced budget along with President Bill Clinton. Now, he's running an optimistic campaign that attempts to convince Ohio voters that he's the person to turn around the state.