Faith-based Candidates


A recent article in an Ohio newspaper asked provocatively: Has the holy war begun? The answer to that question is yes. The battle, though, will not take place in Jerusalem, or on the West Bank. Nor will it take place in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. This time, the battle-ground will be in the American Midwest. Who knew?

In what promises to be one of the most-watched gubernatorial races this year, two formidable politicians will square off-and faith will matter. The Ohio race for governor will pit the fiery evangelical conservative and current Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, AKA the Preacher, against Ted Strickland, AKA the Pastor. Strickland is a moderate Democrat who is serving his sixth term in Congress representing Ohio’s 6th District. He also happens to be an ordained Methodist minister. It is a race with identifiable types, to be sure. But it is also a race that defies conventional wisdom. Why?

Leave aside the fact that Blackwell, an African American from the housing projects of Cincinnati, is a die-hard Reagan Republican and touted friend and supporter of President George W. Bush. Leave aside that he has managed to claim exceptionally large numbers of African-American votes despite his party affiliation, while simultaneously maintaining a passionate base of white evangelical voters with his message of smaller government, lower taxes, and strong social conservatism (he spearheaded Ohio’s recent...

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About the Author

Christopher M. Duncan is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of political science at Saint Louis University.