Monday, January 31, 2005

Coleman to Run for Ohio Governor

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman will announce his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the Ohio govenor's race in 2006.

Coleman, the popular mayor of Ohio's largest city since 1999, ran statewide in 1998 as Lee Fisher's lieutenant-governor running mate. The Democrats lost to Republican Bob Taft's ticket by 5 percentage points.

Coleman rolled up an easy victory the next year, becoming Columbus' first Democratic mayor in 28 years. He had no GOP opponent in his 2003 re-election campaign.

Republicans have held the governor's office since 1991. Taft easily defeated little-known Democrat Tim Hagan to win re-election in 2002.

Coleman, 50, would bring a formidable campaign to the Democratic ticket, the chairmen of both state parties said. Republican Chairman Bob Bennett acknowledged Coleman's popularity but said the Republican nominee will be able to run a strong campaign should Coleman win the nomination.

The Columbus Dispatch has an exclusive interview:
"I have to stand up,'' Coleman said. "I feel a need, an obligation and frankly a duty to run and it's because our state's in crisis.''

"My family said go for it,'' Coleman said.

The state, facing a potential $5 billion budget shortfall, is adrift and has been failed by Republicans' decade-long control of state government, Coleman said.

"I don't think our state can afford more of the same,'' he said. "It's time for a change.''

Coleman said he would not shy away from a Democratic primary challenge that could come from talk-show host Jerry Springer of Cincinnati, U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain, state Sen. Eric Fingerhut of Cleveland, and former Attorney General Lee Fisher of Shaker Heights.

"My decision to run has not been based on other candidates' decisions,'' he said. "My decision to run is based on my believe[sic] that I have a duty and an obligation to serve, to stand up and not stand by.''

Coleman is a moderate Democrat with limited statewide name recognition. He will need to increase his exposure over the next year. With that said, I expect him to be a strong contender.

More tomorrow.