Dennis Murray Jr. says one of the main reasons he's running for the Ohio House is his admiration for the current governor, Ted Strickland.
The governor apparently likes Murray, too. Strickland came to Erie County Saturday afternoon to serve as the star attraction for a Murray campaign fundraiser, held in a tent on Columbus Avenue just across the street from the Erie County Fair.
Murray, a Democrat who serves on the Sandusky City Commission, is running against Republican Ed Enderle for the 80th House District seat, which includes Erie and Ottawa counties. The winner of the Nov. 4 general election will replace state Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island, who is leaving in December because of term limits.
Guests at the ice cream social fundraiser, held under a tent, munched Toft's ice cream and also ate cookies baked by the candidate's mother and sister. The governor patiently met with everyone who wanted to speak with him and posed for pictures before finally getting his own chance to eat ice cream.
Murray brought his four children up to stand beside him in front of a crowd of several dozen supporters, saying that they were "four reasons" he's running. He said Redfern, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, asked him to run for the House.
But he said his main reason for running is that he supported Strickland's principles of "living within our means and investing in what's important."
"It was really Ted Strickland who talked me into running, without saying one word directly to me," Murray said.
Republicans currently hold a small majority in the Ohio House, but Strickland has made it a top priority for Democats to take control of the House, giving the party control of one of the two houses in the Ohio Legislature. Republicans hold a strong majority in the Ohio Senate.
The governor told Murray he looks forward to working with him "when you are in the majority in Columbus, Ohio."
Just in case the partisan crowd had missed the point, Strickland added, "I believe Ohioans are going to give us a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives."
As an example of why change is needed, the governor said the current Republican House speaker, Jon Husted, blocked a bill to provide a "modest bonus" to members of the Ohio National Guard who are serving overseas. The measure passed the Ohio Senate unanimously, but Husted would not allow it to be heard in the House, Strickland said.
If Democrats take over, "one of the very first things we're going to do next year is bring that bill to the House," the governor said.