In an early look at the 2014 gubernatorial race by a Quinnipiac University poll, Republican John Kasich holds an edge over each of the four rumored Democrat candidates.
According to the poll released Thursday, Kasich holds a 10-point lead over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (45 percent to 35 percent) and an eight-point lead (44 percent to 36 percent) over U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who's been holding his intentions close to the vest (unlike FitzGerald, who hasn't officially announced, but his actions indicate he will run).
The poll also suggests the governor would win re-election over former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, 45 percent to 38 percent and Richard Cordray, the former treasurer and attorney general in Ohio who now runs the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 45 percent to 38 percent.
There is a silver lining for Democrats.
''The good news for the Democrats is that Kasich does not get 50 percent of the votes against any of the four potential candidates,'' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the university's Polling Institute.
Still it could be an uphill climb.
The governor's 53 percent job approval rating is an all-time high and the first time in his term he has topped 50 percent. The increased approval rating is 11 percent higher than than the last Quinnipiac Poll in December.
''Not that long ago, Democrats were licking their lips at the prospect of taking an unpopular governor who had a disapproval rating in the 50s. Now his job disapproval rating is just 32 percent and his chances of re-election appear to be much better than they were thought to be as recently as December,'' Brown said.
The number of voters who say they don't know enough about each potential challenger to make an opinion ranges from 62 percent with Cordray to 80 percent with FitzGerald. Cordray was at 70 percent and FitzGerald, 84 percent in December.
Seventy-two percent say they don't know enough about Ryan to make an opinion.
That's down two percent from the December poll, but still indicates Ryan the congressman has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to challenge Kasich next year.
''Obviously the governor has a substantial edge when it come to name identification with the voters compared to his potential challengers,'' Brown said.
The National Journal each year for the past 30 years has rated members of Congress based on how they vote the previous year to see how they stood up to each other on the political scale.
This year's rating are out. They are (with very little to no drum roll) ...
Ryan, who represents a portion of Trumbull County, is the 132nd most liberal member of the U.S. House and 291st most conservative. Republican Bill Johnson, whose 6th District stretches south along the Ohio River and includes southern Mahoning County, was the 135 most conservative House member. He was ranked the 288th most liberal.
Former U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, who represented the top tier of Trumbull County, was ranked the 234th most conservative and 189th most liberal.
LaTourette, who exited Congress over complaints of partisan gridlock, was listed as the sixth most liberal Republican.
In the U.S. Senate, Sherrod Brown was among the top 10 most liberal senators. He ranked seventh. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, was the 33rd most conservative.