By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS — Governor Voinovich will be in Toledo tomorrow to talk about economic development, but not about the unexpectedly tight race for mayor.
Only 11 days before the election, the governor will address a meeting of area development officials at SeaGate Convention Centre. But even with little-known Republican challenger Nick Wichowski edging ahead of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner in one poll, the state’s top Republican will not do any campaigning in the race, his press secretary, Mike Dawson, said.
“I can tell you for sure that we’re not doing anything on the mayor’s race,” Mr. Dawson said.
The governor will meet with representatives of Toledo Regional Growth Partnership, Inc., the Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development Association, and the city to discuss recent projects aimed at bringing industry to the region. Mayor Finkbeiner is scheduled to attend.
Wes Fahrbach, the governor’s regional development representative in Toledo, said the idea for the meeting came after Chrysler’s July 28 announcement that it would invest $1.2 billion in two Toledo Jeep plants. He originally hoped to meet with the governor in September, he said, but Mr. Voinovich’s schedule did not allow it. A few weeks ago, the governor agreed to tomorrow’s meeting, Mr. Fahrbach said.
The decision to schedule the meeting this week “had nothing to do with” politics or the mayor’s race, he added. “We want this to be more of a northwest Ohio deal than a Toledo-only deal.”
Jim Brennan, Lucas County Republican chairman, said he did not know about the governor’s visit until he was told about it by The Blade yesterday.
“I must be truthful and speak with a high degree of regret,” Mr. Brennan said. “I didn’t know until five minutes ago that the governor was going to be in town.”
Mr. Brennan said the party had no plans for fund-raising efforts or joint appearances with Mr. Voinovich and Mr. Wichowski.
When asked if he would try to arrange some sort of campaign activity with the governor’s office, he replied simply: “Is the Pope Catholic?”
Mr. Dawson said the governor rarely involves himself in local races. Mr. Voinovich has not endorsed a candidate in Toledo’s mayoral campaign, he said, and there is no plan to make an endorsement.