Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is wading into the influence game, teaming up with Democratic lobbyist Steve Ricchetti to launch Midwest Gateway Partners, a political-consulting firm aimed primarily at helping businesses create jobs.
The firm, with offices in Columbus, Ohio, and Washington, will do some lobbying work. But Strickland, a former member of Congress who may run for political office again, will not be working the hallways.
“I want to keep my options open on future political involvement, and it’s just easier to do that by choosing not to engage in lobbying,” Strickland said in an interview.
The firm hasn’t signed any clients yet, but Strickland expects to be representing energy and manufacturing companies, agriculture interests and entrepreneurs.
“My interest, and the primary part of the partnership, will be on economic growth and business expansion and trying to work with a variety of folks to try to do what I and my staff tried to do when we were in office, and that was create economic growth and job creation in our state, which is sorely needed,” he said.
Ricchetti, a Cleveland native who served as a top aide to former President Clinton, will represent the firm in Washington as a partner.
The new team will also work on campaigns. Strickland is bringing a pack of former staffers with him to the new venture including his former chief of staff John Haseley, political consultant Aaron Pickrell, and former energy czar Mark Shanahan.
"These guys understand politics, but they also know that states like Ohio don't fit any prefab mold,” a senior labor official said. “This can only be considered a good thing for people eyeing (Republican Gov. John) Kasich's poll numbers and wondering what 2012 could look like."
Since narrowly losing his reelection bid in November to Kasich, Strickland has helped raise money for a progressive think tank in Ohio. He said he decided to launch the firm after helping a Spanish solar company navigate the process and make the connections necessary to bring a manufacturing plant to Ohio that will use union labor to build a solar farm on strip-mined land.
In other lobbying news:
- A new organization taking aim at the health care reform law launched Friday. The Partnership for America bills itself as a free-market grassroots group “dedicated to fighting to preserve American independence from foreign creditors, foreign energy producers, and excessive government control,” according to a press release. Chairman James Wooton founded the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform. “Our first project will be to work with other groups and individuals – our partners – to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and devise widely acceptable ways to address the problems with America’s health care system,” he said in the statement. The group is not saying how it’s funded.
- Emily Lampkin is jumping from DCI Group to start her own public-affairs firm, the Lampkin Group. Lampkin, who worked in the George W. Bush administration for then-Commerce Secretary Donald Evans and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, will provide public-affairs development, advice, and counsel.