Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) will not run for his old job in 2014.
Strickland announced Tuesday morning that he would not challenge Gov. John Kasich (R) next year, ending the possibility of a rematch between the two 2010 rivals. Strickland, a one-term governor, was a vocal surrogate during the 2012 election for President Barack Obama and Ohio Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).
He said in his statement Tuesday that he looked back "fondly" on his four years in the governor's mansion and that it was a "very difficult decision." Strickland used the statement, released by the Ohio Democratic Party, to highlight his administration's accomplishments, including the auto bailout, which was a top issue for Obama, Brown and Democrats during the 2012 election.
"Most significant for jobs, we were leaders in investments in alternatives sources of energy and went to bat for the automobile industry; working closely with President Obama on the rescue plan that has been so pivotal in Ohio’s economic recovery," Strickland said.
Strickland's decision shifts attention to Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) as the leading Democratic challenger to Kasich. FitzGerald, the first county executive in his county, has been mentioned along with Strickland as one of two leading contenders to challenge Kasich. FitzGerald has taken steps to increase his visibility within Ohio, including highlighting his opposition to Kasich.
Kasich, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, is considered a target for Democrats in 2014, stemming from his role in changing Ohio's collective bargaining system, which was overturned by voters in 2011. Within Ohio, Democrats are expected to push heavy challenges against Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) and state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) in the 2014 races.