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Published: Friday, 5/7/2010

Bell to aid Strickland campaign

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Mayor Mike Bell, who was elected as a political independent last year, will host a fund-raising event for Gov. Ted Strickland's re-election effort next week along with his 2009 adversary Keith Wilkowski.

Mr. Bell issued his invitation to the event last month. It will be held May 19 at the Kenwood Boulevard home of Bob Savage. Tickets are $1,000 to attend, $5,000 to co-host.

The mayor, a longtime Democrat, put aside political labels in 2009 to win the top municipal seat, defeating Mr. Wilkowski, the endorsed Democrat.

Governor Strickland is looking for help in his campaign against Republican challenger John Kasich, a former congressman.

Mr. Bell sent a letter to supporters from his 2009 campaign asking support of Mr. Strickland.

"We need a Governor who will fight for Ohio, and I need a Governor in Columbus whom I can turn to for support as Toledo faces some big challenges ahead. We need a Governor who will advocate for the resources that will continue to make Toledo competitive," Mr. Bell said in the letter.

Jen Sorgenfrei, the mayor's spokesman, noted that Mr. Bell has said previously that he supports Mr. Strickland, who appointed him state fire marshal in 2007.

"Being independent means he can support candidates of either party based on who he thinks can do the best job," Ms. Sorgenfrei said.

Mr. Bell attended a January fund-raiser for Mr. Strickland at which former President Bill Clinton was the speaker, as well as a Republican dinner Jan. 21 at which national GOP strategist Karl Rove was the main speaker.

One Republican who supported Mr. Bell for mayor said he wasn't on the list of invitees to the Strickland event.

"I haven't checked my mail yet today, but not that I know of," said Bob Reichert, a former county GOP chairman. He attributed Mr. Bell's support of Mr. Strickland to loyalty to an old boss.

Jerry Chabler, the organizer of the fund-raiser, said the campaign was pleased to have Mr. Bell's involvement because of his support that crossed party lines. "Hopefully this will carry over into the general election," Mr. Chabler said. He said the letter went out to Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Mr. Wilkowski said support of Mr. Strickland is something he and Mr. Bell agree on, although the two have not discussed the event. He was asked to co-host and was "not necessarily" expected to make the dollar amount expected of a co-host.

Of the price tag, he said, "It takes a lot of money to run a campaign for governor of Ohio."



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