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Published: Saturday, 9/4/2010

<br> Toledo's Labor Day parade to include Biden, Strickland

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

For Democrats and labor, it's a big deal that Vice President Joe Biden will return to Toledo Monday for the second time in as many weeks.

With polls showing Gov. Ted Strickland trailing Republican opponent John Kasich, the Monday Labor Day parade will be a chance for the national Democratic leadership to inspire a key constituency of the party.

While the Labor Day parade is not overtly political, Democrats tend to get the biggest share of union endorsements, and Ohio is a good place to meet those folks.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio had 685,000 union members in 2009.

At 14.2 percent of the wage and salary work force, that's more than the national rate of 12.3 percent.

"It's an honor to have the vice president march with us and convey the significance of Labor Day," said Francine Lawrence, vice president of the Northwest Ohio AFL-CIO Council that is sponsoring the parade.

"His presence will inspire labor members to become involved in political action on behalf of candidates who support labor," said Ms. Lawrence, whose statewide organization, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, has endorsed Mr. Strickland.

The vice president is expected to ride and walk in the parade with Governor Strickland.

The parade kicks off at the corner of Summit and Monroe streets at 9 a.m. and will follow a loop through downtown just over one mile long.

Police Chief Michael Navarre said the public is welcome to attend the event and he predicted there would be no delays or problems in the ability of spectators to find spaces along the parade route.

The route will wind north on Summit to Adams Street, west on Adams to Huron Street, and south on Huron to Washington Street where the parade will disband.

All the streets involved in the parade will be closed to traffic at 6:30 a.m.

Chris Redfern, the Ohio Democratic chairman, said it's good political strategy to pay attention to voters in northwest Ohio.

"Ohio matters and northwest Ohio is an integral part of the Democratic strategy to get out the vote this November and build toward the 2012 cycle," Mr. Redfern said. "If political parties or candidates ignore northwest Ohio they do so at their own peril."

Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook said Mr. Biden is coming back to the area in an effort to rally his party's base.

"This is a battleground state that they have to win, and they aren't winning, so that's why they're here, Biden and Strickland. You've got to pull out all the stops," Mr. Stainbrook said.

"Why would they have to shore up one of the most Democratic counties in the state? Because things aren't looking good for them in a battleground state," Mr. Stainbrook said.

Mr. Biden made an appearance in Toledo on Aug. 23 to tour the Chrysler Jeep Wrangler assembly plant in North Toledo.

There he conversed and rubbed shoulders with several hundred members of the United Auto Workers union.

Later, Mr. Biden was the guest of honor at a fund-raiser for Mr. Strickland's re-election campaign in Perrysburg Township.

The visit was his eighth trip to Ohio since he became vice president in 2008. Monday's will be his ninth.

He made one previous visit to northwest Ohio to tour a solar panel factory in Perrysburg in June, 2009.

Allison Kolodziej, a spokesman for Governor Strickland's campaign, said, "we are excited to have the vice president in town to celebrate Labor Day.

"Only one candidate in this race has shown he's on the side of Ohio workers and that's Governor Ted Strickland," Ms. Kolodziej said.

A spokesman for the Kasich campaign decline to comment.

Mr. Biden also is likely concerned with Ohio's races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, where Democratic majorities in both houses are threatened.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) is facing a strong challenge from Republican Rich Iott of Monclova.

And Democrat Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher is battling uphill against former Ohio Congressman Rob Portman to replace retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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