The Democratic nominee for governor made a cash dash to Toledo yesterday, pronounced himself financially fit for the race ahead, and questioned the policy focus of his Republican rival and President Bush.
Supporters from across Lucas County's divided Democratic Party threw a quartet of fund-raisers for U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland (D., Lisbon) yesterday.
In between them, Mr. Strickland said in an interview that he expects to report somewhere around $6 million in total raised on his campaign-finance filing later this week.
He ended the 40-minute discussion on a fiery note, criticizing Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, his Republican opponent, on a variety of topics.
Mr. Strickland said he had tired of Mr. Blackwell saying publicly that Mr. Strickland too often relies on surrogate speakers - such as U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, (D., Ill.) who keynoted a state Democratic dinner last weekend - and cannot speak for himself.
Mr. Strickland noted that Mr. Blackwell declined to debate Attorney General Jim Petro in the waning days of the GOP governor's primary.
The congressman also ripped Republicans for frequently suggesting Democrats have no ideas to move the state forward.
After rattling a list of campaign proposals, Mr. Strickland accused Mr. Blackwell of abandoning his central plan: a constitutional amendment - dubbed "TEL" - to limit state spending.
"There's a different standard for me than there is for Blackwell," Mr. Strickland said. "The major point of his campaign, it seems to me, is the TEL amendment. He talked about it for months, he is the father of it, and he walked away from it. We're going to make an issue out of that ... how can we depend on him to stand up for anything?"
A spokesman for Mr. Blackwell, Carlo LoParo, said Mr. Strickland "needs to do his homework" on Mr. Blackwell's agenda.
The campaign is currently touting Mr. Blackwell's plan to lease the Ohio Turnpike for an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion and use the money to fund a variety of economic development-related issues, "so we can actually cut taxes and make Ohio more affordable for business and development," Mr. LoParo said, adding later: "We'll debate this issue all day with Mr. Strickland."
Mr. Strickland pledged more economic development proposals and a still-developing major effort on health care.
He said he was energized by a Democratic base motivated by unhappiness with Republican leadership in Columbus and Washington, which was on display at the sold-out state party dinner.
He said he shared their frustrations over Mr. Bush, including the President's push this week to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.
"Sometime, you know, I hope he thinks about the [Iraq] war or the millions of Americans without health care," Mr. Strickland said. "If it wasn't so sad, it would be laughable, that this man, given what is facing our country, chooses this way to spend his energies."
Mr. Strickland's campaign would not say how much he raised in Toledo, but it released the names of his new campaign leaders here: county co-chairmen Carty Finkbeiner, Teresa Fedor, and Edna Brown; coordinator Don Burnard; finance director Jerry Chabler; and deputy finance director Wade Kapszukiewicz.
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