Ohio Politics

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Strickland, Sittenfeld react to renaming Mt. McKinley controversy

By Jack Torry

Washington Bureau

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate race next, "understands the disappointment" among Ohio officials that President Barack Obama has removed the name of former President William McKinley from Mt. McKinley in Alaska.

"Like all Ohioans, Ted is proud of President McKinley's Ohio roots and he understands the disappointment," said Dennis Willard, a Strickland spokesman. "At the same time Ted knows we've got a lot of important fights to fight right now and he's focused on fighting to keep jobs in Ohio."

The Obama administration Sunday removed McKinley's name from the country’s tallest mountain and restore its original Native American name of Denali. The decision was sharply criticized by House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

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Dale Butland, a spokesman for Strickland's Democratic primary opponent P.G. Sittenfeld, said his candidate is OK with the name change.

"PG is glad that the McKinley name --- like the Kennedy name --- will continue to grace streets, parks and schools throughout the country. If restoring the name 'Denali' is important to Alaskans, PG has no problem with the change," Butland said. "And frankly, instead of endlessly arguing over something like this, PG believes politicians could better spend their time debating the economic and other policies we need to restore equal opportunity and rebuild the American dream."

Ohio congressional Republicans are expected to send a letter Wednesday to the White House asking whether the Obama administration had the legal authority to change the mountain’s name, pointing out Congress in 1917 created the Mt. McKinley National Park in Alaska.

McKinley, a Republican, was the 25th president of the United States, serving from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.

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