President Barack Obama has been working feverishly to support embattled Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in his bid for reelection, and it’s not because Obama necessarily necessary loves Ted Strickland. Strickland, after all, supported Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary and campaigned for her too.
The reason Obama wants so badly for Strickland to win is that, like all good politicians, he loves himself
Ohio is probably the single most important state in the 2012 election, the ultimate swing state. If Obama loses in Ohio, it is hard to imagine he will be reelected.
A governor has significant power to help a presidential candidate carry his state, being able to campaign for him, use the party apparatus to get out the vote, and call in lots of political favors to gin up support.
Strickland has been consistently trailing Republican challenger John Kasich, the former congressman, in the polls, albeit by single digits. The state is being rocked hard by the lousy economy, and many voters blame Obama for not bringing them the jobs he promised.
That’s why Obama and Biden have be making the state a second home. And that’s why Sunday, the White House is calling out the Big Gun – you guessed it, Michelle – to try to boost the politically stricken Mr. Strickland.
Mr. and Mrs. Obama will attend a rich-people-only fundraiser for Stickland at a private residence in Chagrin Falls, Ohio this Sunday and then head to Columbus for a rally Sunday evening at Ohio State University.
But Ohio is not the only swing state presenting a gubernatorial problem for Obama. The Florida governorship, currently in Democratic hands, is a tossup, according to RealClearPolitics. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which also have Democratic governors, are leaning Republican. The only decent news for Obama is in Minnesota, which has a Republican governor but which is leaning Democratic.
Strickland himself has said that if he is reelected, he believes he can secure the state for Obama in 2012. Kasich is now using this against him, as you can see from the Kasich ad below.
Most voters are watching the House and Senate races. But the White House is just as keenly focused on the governors, because Axelrod, Plouffe and crew know that those races may matter more in determining whether Obama is reelected.
On election night, pay close attention to the governors. These are really the first contests of 2012.