Gov. Ted Strickland said he figures at some point over the next few years voters will compare his leadership with that of incoming governor John Kasich, once Kasich has spent some time in office.
"I don’t fear that comparison," Strickland said.
Because the Democratic leader insists that while he lost his bid for re-election in November to Kasich, he believes he has laid the foundation for Kasich to reap some success off of Strickland’s work.
Take for example, joblessness.
Kasich hammered Strickland during the campaign for the state’s double-digit, above-the-national-average unemployment rate. But in an exit interview with The Plain Dealer, Strickland said that his administration had begun to reverse that negative trend just in time for Kasich to now claim the credit.
"We are one of only two states to have eight consecutive months of declining unemployment," Strickland said in the interview on Dec. 20. "Twenty-one states had increased unemployment last month. Ours went down."
Politifact Ohio wanted to know if the outgoing governor had his facts right, particularly given how hard Kasich and the Republicans hammered him for the economy during the election.
As it turns out, the governor is right on both accounts, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor.
Ohio and Illinois are the only two states that have shown a drop in unemployment — typically by one-tenth of a percentage point, but a drop nonetheless — for every month from April through November. December figures are not yet available.
And, indeed, unemployment increased in 21 states in November compared to October, according to the labor statistics seasonally adjusted figures, further highlighting Ohio’s gains.
In fact, Ohio’s unemployment rate in November was 9.8 percent, drawing even with instead of hovering above the national average for the first time since December 2002, according Ohio Department of Job & Family Services Director Douglas Lumpkin.
The national average increased in November from 9.6 to 9.8 percent.
Five other states also have either shown a decline or stagnation since April from month to month but no increases in its unemployment rate: Michigan, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin.
But only Ohio and Illinois have produced consistent drops. Strickland said the lower unemployment figures mean more people are finding work, a testament to his leadership.
"Its not an accident," he told The Plain Dealer. "It is because I and my administration have managed the affairs of this state carefully and conservatively."
Only time will tell whether the trend continues. If it does, will Strickland get the credit for laying the foundation, as he says, or will Kasich get the political clout from an improving jobs picture in Ohio?
Either way, we rate Strickland’s statement True.