MEMO: Strickland Entering General Election Strongly Positioned For Victory

March 15, 2016

TO: Interested Parties

FR: Rebecca Pearcey, Strickland for Senate Campaign Manager

RE: Strickland Entering General Election Strongly Positioned For Victory

On the heels of a decisive win in Ohio’s Senate Democratic primary, Ted Strickland is entering the General Election positioned to win a victory in November for Ohio’s working families.

Strickland’s deeply rooted brand as a champion for working people perfectly fits the populist mood of the electorate, while Senator Portman’s central identity as an “ultimate insider” and a “dedicated outsourcer” represents exactly what Ohioans hate about Washington.

This central contrast, coupled with Presidential year turnout boosting Democratic candidates and Donald Trump’s ascendancy are all setting the stage for Strickland’s victory – leading analysts like the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report to downgrade Portman’s chances. Entering the general election, here’s the state of the Ohio Senate race:

This Year Money Can’t Buy An Ultimate Insider Like Rob Portman Love.

Here’s the number that is scaring Republicans: $13 million.

Republicans have already spent up to that amount in deceptive advertising trying to boost Portman’s chances – more than double the $5 million that Portman spent on his entire campaign in 2010.

But the Republicans’ strategy isn’t working: voters know Ted, they like him, and Ted is beating Portman in recentpolls, even though Strickland’s campaign has spent no money on TV advertising.  

The polling also provides more proof of Portman’s disconnect from Ohio: roughly 40 percent of voters say they still aren’t familiar with him – a shockingly high number for an incumbent Senator.

Portman’s failure to connect with Ohio voters during his first term will be a heavy campaign expense for him: he’ll have to spend huge sums to effectively introduce himself. In contrast, Strickland is well liked by voters and enjoys nearly universal name identification – an advantage worth millions.

The Message: Strickland’s Brand Fits The Electorate, Portman Represents What They Hate.

Strickland’s working class background, his record of accomplishments and his personal understanding of the struggles facing the middle class all form a winning message that fits the populist mood of the electorate.

Strickland has taken his campaign message of economic fairness across the state, earning strong press coverage: Ted’s called for a middle class tax cut, higher wages, equal pay and overtime protections for working people. He joined steelworkers facing layoffs in Lorain to blast Sen. Portman’s long record of supporting unfair trade policies that have shipped Ohio jobs overseas, labeling Portman “The best senator China’s ever had.” And Ted’s highlighted his commitment to making higher education and workforce training more accessible and affordable in meetings with students and apprentices.

In contrast, newspapers have called Sen. Portman “the ultimate insider”  and a “dedicated outsourcer,” writing that his beltway behavior is “how Washington ticks off the rest of America.” Even Republicans admit that Portman is “better known” among Washington insiders than in Ohio, and that he’s prioritized his D.C. politics at Ohio’s expense.

After winning in the Republican wave of 2010, this year Portman is also facing his first truly competitive campaign – and he’s already made a series of damaging errors. He’s admitted that he failed to read crucial trade legislation before voting on it, was caught on camera stating that the terrorist group ISIS would boost the GOP’s numbers, called the auto rescue a “lousy deal,” and suggested that some women’s health services were not “legitimate.”  He’s also faced headlines exposing his duplicitous D.C. double speak – like “Sen. Rob Portman touts anti-heroin measures, even though he voted against their funding.”

Donald Trump and The Supreme Court Roiling Portman’s Campaign.

Even as other Ohio Republicans have denounced the frontrunner, Sen. Portman is refusing to back away from his commitment to support Trump if he is the nominee.

Running under a Trump presidential campaign presents a potential catastrophe for Sen. Portman – damaging the brand of the Republican Party with key constituencies and the independent voters that decide Ohio’s general election. With the Republican Convention set to be held in Cleveland, Sen. Portman will be front and center for the ongoing chaos and dysfunction.

Finally, Sen. Portman’s refusal to even consider a new Supreme Court nominee has put him squarely on the wrong side of Ohio voters. Polling shows a clear majority of Ohioans – including 70 percent of independent voters – disagree with his position. Sen. Portman has faced a wave of negative press coverage and editorials, while Strickland is on the offensive: holding press events outside courthouses to denounce Sen. Portman’s blatant obstructionism and launching a new website,, to continue holding Portman accountable.

The bottom line: Ted Strickland is entering the General Election well positioned for victory. Millions of dollars in misleading attacks have failed to dislodge his standing. Strickland’s brand, message and record of accomplishments sets up a powerful contrast with Sen. Portman’s identity as an insider and an outsourcer who is prioritizing his Washington politics at the expense of Ohio’s working families. And Sen. Portman will continue to be hamstrung by Donald Trump’s volatile Presidential campaign which is turning off the key constituencies that will decide Ohio’s general election.


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