I moved up this post so my readers can catch the update at the end of the post.
It's the big question that makes everyone shrug their shoulders and say 'meh'.
Kasich's LG pick will serve one primary purpose - to not say anything stupid.
Anything beyond that is gravy.
I've heard several names through the grapevine, so let's take a look at the possibilities:
Creighton is the popular former Mayor of Canton. She's outspoken, but a solid conservative with years of dedication to the Party. Word is she's working hard to be Kasich's pick.
Sen. Karen Gillmor
Gillmor is the wife of the late Congressman Paul Gillmor and a veteran of the Ohio Senate. She rejoined the Senate last year after previously serving from '92-'97.
Sen. Mark Wagoner
Wagoner would be a very solid pick if Kasich wants to go with someone from within the Statehouse. He's young, articulate, and would serve as a good counterpunch to Strickland's likely pick, Matt Szollosi. But, he did vote for the Strickland Christmas tax hike, so that damages his chances.
Sen. Jimmy Stewart
The name alone makes him a good pick. But beyond that, his roots in Strickland's home turf in SE Ohio make him an attractive candidate. He's a mostly solid conservative, beyond his ties to labor, and voted against the tax hike.
But who will it be?
My best bet?
State Auditor Mary Taylor She's conservative. As Auditor she has the gravitas to discuss the all-important economy. She was the first to bring the upcoming $7-9 billion shortfall for the next Ohio budget to the forefront, which is convenient since the Governor refuses to acknowledge it. She's attractive. She's helps with the female vote. And back when I was organizing a bus tour for the doomed Ann Womer Benjamin congressional race in 2002 against Tim Ryan, she was incredibly nice in helping me out. (Thanks, Mary!)
Obviously, a Mary Taylor pick would open up an opportunity for another Republican to step in and run for Auditor. That means the sooner Kasich makes the pick, the better it is for whoever steps in to run in Mary's place.
One rumor I've heard is that State Rep. Matt Dolan would consider running for the job. While his vote for the tax hike won't please many conservatives, from a purely political perspective it's a good move. The media, which has already fawned all over him for bucking leadership and voting for the hike, will continue their love affair through the election. He's popular in NE Ohio and his family owns the Indians (sorry, Reds fans). His family is wealthy so he could self-finance his race, which would be a help considering the late start. And ultimately, the Taylor to Dolan switch would help make up for Taylor's less than stellar fundraising during her term as Auditor.
So there we have it, folks. I've made my bet. Let's see how the cards fall.
Kasich/Taylor. I like the ring of it.
UPDATE: I've gotten a few e-mails, and a colorful comment, questioning the rationale of pulling Mary Taylor out of a virtually certain victory in the Auditor's race. It's certainly a fair point.
But there are three variables these folks aren't considering. 1) As I mentioned to start this post, the LG selection is one big yawner, but with that being said, pulling Taylor into the Governor's race increases her profile and makes her a solid advocate, with the background to back it up, to pick Strickland apart over the coming months on budget and economic issues - the primary issue of this campaign. 2) Taylor has done a very poor job raising money for her race. As a colleague said, "while she is a near shoo-in for Auditor, that doesn't mean much when you don't have much money to convince people of your inevitability." And 3) Whoever takes over the Auditor's race, either Dolan as I've suggested, or another high profile GOP candidate, they will be able to raise plenty of money to force David Pepper into a corner. Pepper is easily the Dems' worst recruit this cycle, and it won't take much to beat him. If he wants a chance at winning, the ODP will have to finance it, and that takes away from their ability to provide more cash to defeat Kasich.