Former Ohio Democratic governor Ted Strickland made it official Wednesday morning – he will run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Rob Portman.
Strickland, who lost his race for re-election as governor in 2010, made the announcement official in an e-mail Wednesday morning, ending months of speculation about whether he would jump into the race.
“I’m running for the United States Senate in 2016 because I am determined to restore the American dream for working people in this country,’’ Strickland said in a press release.
In order to face Portman in the November 2016 election, Strickland will first have to deal with a Democratic U.S. Senate primary next spring. P.G. Sittenfeld, the 30-year-old second-term Cincinnati city councilman, announced his candidacy weeks ago and has been out actively raising money and putting together a campaign organization.
Strickland didn’t mention Portman or Sittenfeld in his press release. Instead, he talked about his vision for helping middle class Ohioans get ahead.
“To save the American dream, we need to go back to basics,’’ Strickland said. “We need to create living wage jobs and invest in the kind of infrastructure projects that benefit our communities.”
He said he wants to work in the Senate to make college more affordable “so that our young people can get an education, get a job, and start saving to buy a home, support their families and retire with a sense of dignity and security.”
“If we do this, we can put our country back on the right path and bring opportunity to all,’’ Strickland said.
Strickland began raising money for the race about two weeks ago, a campaign aide said.
In a press release, Portman’s re-election campaign welcomed Strickland to the race with a jab at his record as governor.
“I welcome Governor Strickland back to Ohio and look forward to a candidate exchange of ideas during this critical time for so many in our state,’’ Portman said in a written statement. “The coming months will give Ohioans an opportunity to contrast my vision for a better future for Ohio workers with his past tenure as governor when hundreds of thousands of jobs disappeared from our state.”
The 73-year-old Democrat, a native of Scioto County, served in the U.S. House for 12 years before running for governor in 2006.
It was a good year for Ohio Democrats – Sherrod Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate that same year, defeating incumbent Republican Mike DeWine.
Strickland faced a relatively weak Republican opponent in 2006 in former Cincinnati mayor and council member J. Kenneth Blackwell.
Strickland’s one term as governor was plagued by the national economic recession that struck in 2008; and lingered into 2010, his re-election year.
Strickland ran an energetic re-election campaign, but his Republican opponent, former U.S. House Budget Committee chairman John Kasich, hammered at the fact that the state had lost 350,000 jobs during Strickland’s watch.
In the end, it was a close election – with Kasich defeating Strickland by only two percentage points.
After campaigning hard for President Obama’s re-election in 2012, many Ohio Democrats thought Strickland was headed for a high profile job in the Obama administration, but that did not happen.
Instead, Strickland went to Washington to become president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the political arm of a liberal think tank.
Strickland resigned from that job earlier this month, after he had started taking contributions for a U.S. Senate campaign.
The Ohio Republican Party and the National Republican Senate Committee have been criticizing Strickland’s work at the center for weeks, saying the think thank is anti-coal and opposes rights for gun owners.