If you think the elections are over, you're just looking at the wrong calendar. Two years from now Ohioans will pick a new governor, and the favorites for the Republican nomination already are hard at it.
Secretary of State Ken Blackwell received plenty of national television exposure this week as the man who kept Ohio from becoming another Florida. It was Blackwell who bucked his own party to say partisan "challengers" should be kept out of the polling places. It was Blackwell whom CNN anchorman Wolf Blitzer described to a national audience Wednesday as "magnanimous in saying he wanted every vote to be counted. There was no doubt that Ken Blackwell, the Republican secretary of state in Ohio, wanted to show that he wasn't going to be partisan."
If Ohioans think of Blackwell as the man who always does "the right thing," that fits in to his plans nicely. He has made no secret of his desire to succeed Bob Taft as governor. Look for him to start pushing what will become a key campaign theme - a state constitutional amendment to limit government spending - early in 2005.
One of Blackwell's chief competitors is the fellow Republican who went to the U.S. Court of Appeals over Blackwell's objections to have the partisan challengers reinstated at the polling places - State Attorney General Jim Petro.
On Thursday, Petro unveiled his plan to reorganize state government.
"The first half of 2005 presents a unique opportunity to carefully examine factors that hinder Ohio's prospects for growth and development," Petro said in a letter released with his plan. "In the months to come, I intend to offer very specific ideas focused on reform, including privatization of our state economic development functions, modernization of the tax code, centralized programmatic coordination of our higher education system, Medicaid reform, and stable financing of primary and secondary education."
Just about the only thing he left out was reforestation of the state parks. Reorganizing the government isn't something the attorney general ordinarily has to worry about. For an attorney general who wants to be governor, however, it makes perfect sense.
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