Gov: Strickland (D) Endorsed by Tubbs Jones, Jackson & Fudge
This afternoon in a gleaming community center at Arbor Park Village, a newly constucted housing development in a previously blighted portion of Cleveland's economically distressed 5th Ward, a crowd of campaign aides, reporters, camera crews, local elected officials, and labor union supporters wearing black and gold "IUPAT for Ted Strickland" tee shirts gathered for a hastily scheduled press conference. After months of negotiations, which became very intense during the past few weeks, Cleveland-area African-American political leaders Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland), Mayor Frank Jackson (D-Cleveland), and Mayor Marcia Fudge (D-Warrensville) publicly announced their endorsement of Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) for governor. This press conference followed similar events today in Dayton and Columbus featuring African-American big city mayors Rhyne McLin (D-Dayton) and Michael Coleman (D-Columbus).
Tubbs Jones introduced Fudge, in her second term as mayor of suburban Warrensville Heights, who pointed out that there are more small cities than big cities in Ohio. She said that the people of Warrensville Heights need a governor who will address economic issues, school funding, and health care, or as she put it "deal with things that are important, not things that are not important," a veiled reference to divisive social issues championed by Republican candidates. "Ted Strickland has the ability and the understanding of government to bring Ohio back to greatness," she said.
Tubbs Jones then introduced Jackson, who said that the fate of Cleveland and the fate of Ohio are tied together. "We need a governor that understands urban issues," he continued, including inner city, inner suburb, and outer suburb issues. "Ted Strickland understands that and that is why he should be the next governor of the state of Ohio," he said, "As governor, Ted Strickland will make sure that the needs of Cleveland and all of Ohio's urban areas are understood and addressed."
For her own part, Tubbs Jones recalled her 25 years of representing the people of Northeast Ohio as judge, prosecutor and member of Congress, and of travelling throughout the state, and said that "the people of Ohio need a fighter, someone willing to fight for those in need of affordable healthcare, an education that counts, and living-wage jobs." Ohio needs someone "willing to make tough decisions" and "willing to uphold constitutional law as set forth by the Supreme Court of Ohio." Acknowledging the widespread speculation about their negotiations, Tubbs Jones said that she and the mayors acted with careful deliberation because they "bring to the table voters who are looking for a true leader." She concluded by saying that "Ted Strickland is the man to turnaround Ohio. I am 100% committed to Ted Strickland."
Strickland began by saying, "This is the one I have been waiting for." He recalled the occasion of Tubbs Jones' endorsement of Frank Jackson in the mayoral race last year, and said that he had a similar feeling about the power of Tubbs Jones' endorsement of Strickland today. He praised Jackson's "humble spirit" and the "air of kindness about him," but didn't "mean to imply there wasn't steel in that backbone." Jackson is "a rare combination -- a kind person and a strong leader." Strickland then compared "what happened over the last weeks and months to what happened in the Republican Party." The Republican primary featured "nasty words like 'hypocrite'" followed by a hasty photo-op as a show of unity. He questioned whether that display of unity was sincere. Strickland, Tubbs Jones and the mayors, on the other hand, engaged in lengthy "conversations about Ohio and what the office of governor should mean to the people of Ohio." Cities have been neglected by the current government, he said, and "Ohio cannot be a healthy state without healthy cities." Strickland talked to the mayors about their cities' needs, and entered into "a common agreement to work with common purpose for a common agenda," in order to move Ohio's cities forward in a positive direction. "It will be us against the problems that face Ohio." Concluding, Strickland pledged that "if you help me become the governor of this great state, then you will have a friend and partner as governor, and we will do great things for Ohio."
Tubbs Jones next introduced the four pastors who sat in a row beside the podium during the remarks: Rev. Stephen Sullivan of the Gethsemane Baptist Church, Rev. Paul H. Sadler, Sr. of the Mt. Zion Congregational Church, Tubbs Jones' cousin Bishop F. E. Drury (?) of the Church of God in Christ, and Rev. E Theophilus Caviness of the Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church.
Asked about speculation that the length of the discussions arose from hard feelings, Tubbs Jones referred again to her and the mayors as bringing "a lot of voters who are looking for guidance," and "before I endorse, I want to make sure that these are people who understand their needs." She also said that she doesn't have to publicize her discussions with candidates in the press, and that she and the mayors were "careful not to put their disagreements in public," but there are no disagreements now. "I will work my butt off to elect this man as governor." When Jackson was asked what commitments were made to gain his endorsement, he said that there is presently an anti-urban agenda in Columbus, and that the specific needs discussed included education, economic development, and brown fields, which need "dollars and facilities to clean them up." When Strickland was asked what lessons he learned from the discussions, he said that he "learned that you don't take friends for granted." He also talked about the "need to have someone at a high level of state government -- a high level policy position -- to look at everything that happens through the lens of its effect on big cities," and that in allocating transportation dollars the needs of cities must be given more weight. In education, he said, it is "absolutely essential that a child who goes to a big city school has access to a high quality education," which is crucial to Ohio's future. Under the current adminstration, he said, resources are being snatched away from big cities. "What's happening today is not simply a political endorsement from political leaders, but a shared commitment to make sure that urban areas have the resources and facilities they need." Finally, Tubbs Jones said that the discussions included making sure that a diverse group of people are involved in decision making in the gubernatorial campaign and in the state government to follow.