Recent meetings with black leaders from across Ohio have paid off for Congressman Ted Strickland, the Democratic nominee for Ohio governor.
Cleveland Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin and Warrensville Heights Mayor Marcia Fudge all are expected to announce their endorsements of Strickland in events throughout the state today.
Support from African-Americans has become a pivotal issue in the governor's campaign. Strickland faces Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who has been reaching into traditional Democratic bastions in cities to woo black voters with a conservative, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage agenda. Recent polling data show that his campaign's strategy has been working.
Some big-city leaders, including Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, had been withholding their endorsements of Strickland, saying that his platform ignored the issues of cities. Plusquellic could not be reached for comment this morning.
Also in play was a rift between Strickland and Tubbs Jones and McLin, over Strickland's choice of State Rep. Chris Redfern as chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. Both women had supported Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Dennis Lieberman for the job. Strickland has maintained that as the party's nominee, he should be able to have his choice for chairman. But the bitter meeting over Redfern's selection caused lingering hard feelings.
The most power black folks in the Democrat Party seem to have is this little dance they do, "withholding" their endorsements until whatever white pol is running comes to them and makes myriad promises -- most forgotten before the meeting is over.
I still remember the moment that I forever lost respect for Joe Lieberman. Bigot Maxine Waters was upset that he mildly opposed racial quotas and Joe was forced to come to her and sing "Happy Birthday" (live on CNN!) before she bestowed her endorsement on his vice-presidential candidacy.
Step 'n' Fetchit lives!