Young Elected Official Backs Former Rival

By John Celock

A 31-year-old Cincinnati councilman who was defeated following an aggressive U.S. Senate candidate this year has tossed his backing behind his former rival.

Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld released a video Monday endorsing former Gov. Ted Strickland in the November contest against U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R). Strickland easily defeated Sittenfeld, 68 percent to 20 percent, in last month’s primary, following an aggressive campaign by Sittenfeld against the better known former governor who had backing from top Democrats in Ohio and Washington, D.C. Sittenfeld acknowledged the margin in the video.

“I am genuinely proud of the race we ran but the governor whooped my butt,” he said.

While Sittenfeld was the first Democrat to enter the race against Portman, Strickland’s entry in to the field gave the advantage to the former governor. Sittenfeld declined pressure to drop out of the race, campaigning across the state, making a focus in the last weeks on gun control issues, citing Strickland’s previous support by the National Rifle Association during the former governor’s tenure in Congress.

Sittenfeld put aside past criticisms and praised Strickland in the video, noting that he and Strickland sat down in recent weeks. Sittenfeld noted that many voters around the state told him they genuinely like Strickland, who was governor from 2007 to 2011. Strickland was defeated for a second term in the governor’s mansion by Gov. John Kasich (R).

Sittenfeld said that Strickland, who ran a foundation associated with the Center for American Progress in Washington prior to entering the Senate race, is focused on people and not donors.

“Often it feels that our members of Congress only have time for donors,” Sittenfeld said. “That is what sets Ted Strickland apart.”

Sittenfeld, who does not face reelection to the city council until 2017, has not indicated what he plans to do next. His Senate race was viewed to be a potential warm-up for a 2018 bid for statewide office, giving him a chance to gain relationships across the large state.

Ohio voters will see all statewide offices open in 2018. In the state’s 2018 U.S. Senate contest, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) is expected to seek a third term and be faced by state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R), who lost to Brown in 2012. In the contest for governor, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R), Attorney General Mike Dewine (R) and Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) are all expected to faceoff in the GOP primary. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray are considered potential Democratic candidates for the governorship. Cordray is a former state treasurer and attorney general. He was defeated for a second term in the attorney general’s office in 2010 by Dewine, a former two-term U.S. senator.

Fields are beginning to shape up for the secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and auditor’s offices. Gubernatorial candidates select their own running mates for lieutenant governor. State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), 33, is considered a potential candidate for secretary of state.

While Sittenfeld is not an attorney, he could likely wage a campaign for the secretary of state, treasurer or auditor posts or be picked for lieutenant governor. A bid for state treasurer could continue to keep the office in the hands of a thirty-something official. Mandel was 33 when he was first elected in 2010, defeating Democrat Kevin Boyce. Boyce was a 37-year-old Columbus city councilman when he was appointed by Strickland in 2009 to fill a vacancy in the treasurer’s office. Boyce now serves as minority whip of the Ohio House of Representatives and is seeking a seat on the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.

Sittenfeld kept the video focused on Strickland.

“I am glad to support Ted Strickland because of who he is as a person,” he said.