COLUMBUS -- Allies in politics have become allies in business as former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland Wednesday announced plans to form a Washington-Columbus consulting firm with former staff and supporters.
Although he is involved in the fight against a ballot issue that would allow Ohio to reject part of President Obama's signature health-care law, the Democrat said there were immediate plans for his firm to get involved.
In fact, he said he worked Wednesday to help raise money to fight the proposed constitutional amendment at the polls.
"I will be involved personally, but I don't know that the group will be involved in any formal way,'' he said. "As individuals we will do everything we can do."
The Democrat, who lost his re-election bid to Republican Gov. John Kasich last fall, has joined forces with his former chief of staff, John Haseley; his former campaign manager, Aaron Pickrell; his former energy czar, Mark Shanahan; former Statehouse reporter-turned-campaign-aide Sandy Theis; and a Washington consultant and former deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, Steve Ricchetti.
The new firm, Midwest Gateway Partners, expects to specialize in business expansions and political and advocacy campaigns. Mr. Strickland said the emphasis will be on business, and, if that means working with Mr. Kasich and his new nonprofit JobsOhio agency to make economic development happen, so be it.
"I would not rule that out," he said. "Much of what we will be doing in terms of economic development is nonpolitical or apolitical in nature.''
Since he left office in January, Mr. Strickland has been involved in helping states in the development of their new insurance exchanges required under President Obama's health-care law that was passed last year.
He applauded Mr. Kasich for continuing to work toward creation of Ohio's exchange as the federal law requires.
As governor, Mr. Strickland also pursued expansion of health coverage in Ohio, particularly for children, before the federal law passed. Some of those expansions, however, were later shelved because of budget problems.