John Cranley is the best candidate for governor. It is time for Democrats, Progressives, Independents and fed-up-with-Trump Republicans to get behind the former Cincinnati Mayor.

His running mate, State Sen. Teresa Fedor, is the best candidate for lieutenant governor, too.

The Cranley-Fedor ticket has the best chance of turning around moribund, but beautiful, Ohio that has been in the grip of the GOP corporate establishment and  socially unconscious right-wingers for the better part of three decades."The public be damned" is their motto (with apologies to railroad magnate William Henry Vanderbilt who uttered the phrase in the 19th century).

No wonder folks of all stripes did flips over the announcement of the proposed Intel plants in Licking County. We are used to factories leaving Ohio, not coming here.

Yet the $2 billion-plus tax giveaway to Intel seems excessive for a prosperous suburban county when the crime-ridden inner city of Columbus and the metro areas of Cincinnati, Toledo, Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Warren, Youngstown, Lima, Mansfield and Lorain-Elyria, among others, now wonder where their $2 billion of state money to attract new industry is."Hey, Gov. DeWine. Where's our $2 billion?" signs should be springing up in the Other Ohio because central Ohio continues to get the lion's share of government goodies.

Craney seems best equipped to lead Ohio to a "comeback," a word his campaign freely uses. I will compare him to the other four candidates for governor and I will do the same with Fedor.

Cranley's opponent in the Democratic Party primary is former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

Cincinnati's population is more than double Dayton's -- 309,000 to 137,000. Cincy gained population for the first time in years. Dayton continued to lose. Cincy is in a major metropolitan area while Dayton is in a medium-sized one.

Both identified with progressive causes while in office. Call that a wash.

Whaley networked more avidly in state party circles and lined up some powerful supporters in hopes of persuading the Ohio Democratic Party committee men and women to endorse her before the primary. Cooler heads prevailed and the party stayed neutral, throwing Whaley's campaign a curve from which it has not recovered.

Meanwhile, Cranley is touring the metropolitan areas of Ohio touting the cause of social justice and reminding likely primary voters of his involvement with the Innocence Project, that freed wrongly convicted minorities and women from prison.

This is a masterstroke because women and minorities are the majority of voters in the Democratic Party primary to be held May 3.

Whaley's team has no answer and Cranley seems destined to run up a 2-to-1 victory in the primary.

Whaley would be wise to drop out of the race and perhaps resurface as a candidate for Congress or the State Legislature -- once maps that are likely to create more Democratic opportunities are approved by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The other possibility is for one of the four "unknowns" running as Democrats for secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor and state treasurer -- I can't remember their names, can you? -- drops out after the primary and Whaley is named to replace them on the ballot.

Should Whaley not seek another office, she would be a prime candidate for a cabinet post in a Cranley Administration.

Fedor is an outstanding choice for lieutenant governor because she has served 20 distinguished years in the State Legislature, first in the Ohio House and now in the Ohio Senate. A former teacher, she is highly regarded by the education community. She helped pass landmark human trafficking legislation. .

If elected governor, Cranley needs a partner to help him deal with the State Legislature, that is likely to be controlled by Republicans, albeit by a narrower margin once redistricting is completed. Fedor knows her way around the corridors of power in Columbus.

Fedor's credentials to serve as governor, in the event Cranley stepped aside,  are impeccable, as compared to Whaley's running mate.

Cheryl Stephens, a Cuyahoga County council member,  was chosen to run for lieutenant governor by Whaley. Stephens, a Black woman, is CEO of the East Akron Development Corporation. She formerly was major and a council member of Cleveland Heights.

Stephens experience in local government in Cuyahoga and Summit counties pales by comparison to Fedor's two decades in state government. Her credentials to serve as governor in the event are less stellar, as well.

The John Cranley-Teresa Fedor ticket is superior not only compared to its Democratic Party rivals, but also to whichever of three teams the Republicans field.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine won a lot of bipartisan support with his early handling of the COVID crisis. He had the guts to cancel The Arnold and to put the state under lockdown, all on the advice of Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton, whom he later forced to resign.

But the crazies in his own party -- the anti-vaxers, the anti-maskers and the anti-sciencers  -- eventually got to him and he put his political ambition -- getting re-elected in 2022 -- ahead of the public interest, losing a lot of us along the way. Did I mention his opposition to women's rights yet?

His running mate Lt. Gov. Jon Husted cuddles up to the big GOP donors, utility graft bags and charter school scumbags to name a few.  Some think Husted is a direct descendant of the now indicted former House Speaker Larry Householder. As a legislator and exemplar of virtue, Husted cannot hold a candle to Senator Fedor.

On Nov. 8, the Cranley-Fedor ticket will grind DeWine-Husted into the turf, even the new million dollar one the supposedly broke OSU athletic department is installing at Ohio Stadium.

There are two other Republican tickets contesting DeWine-Husted for the nomination in the May 3 primary.

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of northeast Ohio heads up one ticket with a nobody running mate and Joe Blystone of central Ohio heads up the other with a nobody running mate.

A Republican pollster recently found DeWine with 41 percent of the primary vote  while Renacci and Blystone had 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Generally, an incumbent is deemed in trouble if he gets less than 50 percent.

Renacci lost to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in the 2018 general election. He has a lot of money, but is not all that popular in Ohio GOP circles. Renacci is banking on former President Trump endorsing him as a majority of Republicans still worship the ground Trump walks on, surveys tell us. Trump does not like DeWine but does not want to risk looking weak if he backs Renacci and Renacci loses.

Blystone, a so-called constitutional conservative, is pushing himself as a cult figure, country boy with a cowboy hat. He might have a shot in Wyoming, but not in Ohio. Renacci would have a better chance of upsetting DeWine and getting Trump's nod if Blystone dropped out of the race. Renacci then could cobble together all the Republicans unhappy with DeWine because the latter is not conservative enough for the GOP crazies.

Renacci upsetting DeWine in the primary would guarantee that Cranley is the next Ohio governor because Renacci would be a dud with most Ohio voters.

I am painting a pretty picture of what might be -- a Democratic governor who cares about social justice, women's rights, LGBTQ rights, unions, teachers, parents, children, seniors, the innocently imprisoned, among others, who will lead Ohio's comeback.

I especially like John Cranley because he reminds me of two former Democratic governors, Jack Gilligan and Dick Celeste. Jack and Dick possessed that intangible called charisma. They saw a picture bigger than the governorship and that enabled them to inspire a lot of Ohioans, including me. They put tears in my eyes and made me stand up and cheer.

I'm wiping away tears and I'm standing up to cheer for John Cranley.

(Please send your comments and suggestions for future columns to John K. Hartman,

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