CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Democrats expect to raise more than $20 million for Ted Strickland's reelection campaign. Republicans have been tossing around similar numbers for GOP challenger John Kasich. Strickland's 2010 campaign manager Aaron Pickrell, who was just on the phone with The Daily Bellwether, confirmed that he's sure the contest will set spending records: "This is going to be an extraordinarily expensive campaign." He said the governor's reelection budget will be at least $3 million more than the $17 million spent defeating Cincinnati's Ken Blackwell four years ago. Pickrell said the money is necessary for television ads, new media and to "build a massive field operation" that can send volunteers door-to-door spreading the governor's message.
While early polls show Strickland trailing Kasich, Pickrell said the data is not discouraging. He said the economy trumps all issues. "People are angry, they're blaming anyone that is currently in power." But the data also shows, "People trust the governor and people like him. Those are things you cannot buy." And, "There is no question this is going to be a tough political year." Pickrell sees early polling suggesting the race -- at this point in time -- is Strickland facing the economy, not Strickland facing Kasich. That will change over time as voters begin to focus on Kasich, a former congressman and Lehman Bros. investment banker who is largely unknown statewide.