Democrat Ted Strickland, left, and Republican John Kasich
By Mark Naymik, The Plain Dealer
The political ad wars that traditionally mark the fall campaign season have hit the airwaves early in the race for Ohio governor.
Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland started it in early May, tapping a $2 million fund-raising advantage to air television commercials in Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton. In a 30-second spot that is no longer running, Strickland charged that his Republican rival John Kasich’s ties to Wall Street make him unfit to be governor.
Though Kasich’s campaign itself has resisted responding directly, The Republican Governors Association has come to his defense. It is airing commercials in the same markets that knock Strickland for attacking Kasich and assert that the governor has nothing good to say about himself.
The political arm of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees also jumped in last week, airing a television spot that continues the Wall Street attacks on Kasich.
After serving 18 years in Congress, Kasich joined Lehman Brothers investment firm in 2001 as a managing director in the investment banking division, where he worked until the firm collapsed in 2008. The demise of the giant and once venerable firm helped trigger the national economic crisis.
The AFSCME ad will air through this week on network affiliates in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, says Ricky Feller, deputy political director for AFSCME.
But the ad will live on beyond that.
A second independent group – Building a Stronger Ohio — is scheduled to run the same ad, according to public records at Cleveland’s NBC affiliate. The only change will be the ad’s tag line, which by law must identify the group paying to air the spot.
Feller said AFSCME coordinated with Building a Stronger Ohio in creating the ad, but the groups are paying for their own air time.
“We are aligning with them,” he said.
Building a Stronger Ohio is backed largely by the Democratic Governors Association, which contributed $1.5 million to the group, according the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. The American Federation of Teachers contributed $200,000 to the group.
Federal elections law allows groups to coordinate political activity but prohibits them from working directly with a candidate’s campaign.
The AFSCME ad relies on newspaper clips to argue that Lehman Brothers handed out $16 billion in bonuses company wide during Kasich’s tenure.
The ad charges that Kasich “refuses to reveal how big all his bonuses were or how much he was paid” but takes a bit of leap in saying that he made untold millions.
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