Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Blackwell vs. Strickland

I think we're seeing tonight how much of this campaign will be portrayed by the media:

Blackwell is "too extreme."

Strickland is warm and cuddly, like a "real Ohioan" should be.

I do not expect to see Strickland directly attack Blackwell - he has plenty of surrogates for that. Chris Redfern comes to mind. So does Jennifer Brunner. So does Marc Dann.

In other words, expect a "team effort" from the Democrats. The various undercard Republicans may be running against their Democratic counterparts for office, but ALL the statewide Democrats will be running against Blackwell. The media will have the microphones handy to catch every word.

Count on it.

This strategy will allow Strickland to appear "above the fray" and stay on message. What message? Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs-jobs-jobs and jobs. Ohio's economy is finally turning the corner overall, but areas heavily dependent on manufacturing (including my own northwest corner) continue to lag. It really doesn't matter what "the plan" is, as long as people worried about their neighbors or their own employment situation believe the candidate understands and will "do something."

Blackwell is the anti-Taft, but many voters don't know it. They do perceive little or nothing has been done at the state level to restructure Ohio's economic policies in a way which allows the state to adapt to the new economy and bring its workforce and young people along with it. The Democrats will do all they can to put Blackwell on the defensive. They don't need to tie him to Taft. They just need to make sure he doesn't get a chance to explain his own positions to voters. If they succeed, voters will make that connection (Taft = no economic policy = Blackwell, therefore Blackwell = Taft).

The Ohio Conservative is right about Blackwell - he's not afraid to fight back. TOC is also right that Blackwell can't get too carried away with it. He needs to straighten the record and then move on to important issues. He needs to sell an economic agenda. If he can do so, he can overtake Strickland in the fall.

However, this will be a long, hard slog.

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