Strickland, Kasich, and LeBron James

| Fri Jul. 9, 2010 11:07 AM EDT

You probably haven't heard, but NBA star LeBron James is leaving Cleveland to join the Miami Heat. What impact will "King James'" decision have on the Ohio gubernatorial race? More than you might think. As part of an ongoing effort to paint his opponent as "out-of-touch" with Ohio, allies of Dem Gov. Ted Strickland (one of the stars of the already-embarassing video above) have been pushing a video of Republican nominee John Kasich saying "the last guy" he "worries about is LeBron James." This is actually a bit misleading. Here's some more context (via the National Review's Jim Geraghty) from Kasich's interview with Alan Colmes:

"Alan, we’ve lost 400,000 jobs out here and the last guy I worry about is LeBron James. You know I mean, we all hope he’ll stay in Cleveland. We think we’ve got a great guy there that can turn everything around, but we got some serious problems," Kasich said.

Kasich, flashing a bit of sports knowledge, did sympathize with Cleveland fans who are still waiting for a championship from the Cavs, Browns or Indians.

"It’d have been so great for the Cavs to be playing because Cleveland has struggled with its sports teams and we need a little, we need a little victory so we might need to steal some players out of New York to help us out," Kasich told Colmes.

Now that James has left Cleveland in the worst possible way, Kasich's mixed feelings about his departure could actually play well. Does anyone in Ohio feel good about LeBron James today? There's little doubt that the Strickland campaign will keep trying to make the election about Kasich—with his Lehman Brothers past, the Republican is just too juicy of a target. The huge amounts of money that will be poured into this race—perhaps north of $20 million by the time it's over—will almost ensure that it gets nasty. Not every voter is going to like that. If Strickland can't make Kasich radioactive, he has to at least do some damage. I'm not sure the LeBron angle is going to do the trick.