Keeling last week: “Budget deal is a huge victory for Kasich and a disaster for Governor Strickland.”

Keeling today: “Strickland’s budget victory is meaningless.”


Even the column Keeling cites is headlined that Strickland won on the budget fight.

Yes, it’s entirely in Kasich’s own history to think that constantly losing budget battles is not politically significant in voters’ minds.? How else do you explain a guy that got his ass handed to him constantly by Bill Clinton thought he should run for President?

Which gets me to my next point, here’s why Keeling is forced to change his story: He realizes that our narrative that Kasich’s has no real alternatives of his own to present with his constant backseat sniping of Governor Strickland is starting to take hold, and he wants to change the subject to more neutral, or favorable, ground.

During Kasich’s failed 2000 Presidential run, you’d be hard pressed to find a media outlet more supportive and favorable to Kasich as the The Columbus Dispatch, which is essentially Kasich’s hometown newspaper.? And yet yesterday, the Dispatch began to finally signal that Kasich’s act was getting old.? This is a bad omen in Kasich-land.

After much pointed criticism by me, Joe Hallett finally uttered the words we’ve waiting for him to write:

The expedient behavior of Republican wannabe governor John Kasich also deserves to be noted. Throughout the long budget debate, he hid in the weeds, constantly refusing to comment. Predictably, when the impasse ended, Kasich rocketed forth a news release deploring the tax increase, vowing to cease the “culture of tax and spend.” Such promises are easy to make from the sidelines after the game.

Where have we heard THAT before?

Hallett then concludes by calling Kasich and his GOP brethren who opposed Strickland’s budget solution but offered no alternative “cowards” because of their refusal to put solving problems ahead of their own political self-interest.? This is exactly the kind of attention Keeling has been trying to avoid for his old boss.

And this is but a small crack that will continue to spread and become the narrative.? Kasich has enjoyed good polls numbers because he’s stayed out of sight.? Eventually, he will be pulled into the spotlight and he will wilt.

That’s what Jon Keeling is in a panic over.? He’s written, time after time, that Kasich’s only strategy was avoid the spotlight and let Strickland take the heat for the economy.? The last thing Kasich should, Keeling argued with me on his blog,? do is?anything that defines Kasich.? So now he knows he needs to change the subject because the next hit on Kasich is already coming: the “myth” of Kasich’s legacy.

Also in Sunday’s Dispatch and Plain Dealer we already saw the first crack on that myth that actually preceded my post today:

“[F]ormer U.S. Rep. John R. Kasich, of Westerville, has a grass-roots image, deserved or not, as a budget maestro.”

Budgets do matter in campaigns.? Just ask the campaign staff of Ken Blackwell-Raga ’06 or anyone else working in Ohio GOP politics that year.? We successfully took Blackwell’s TEL Amendment idea and was able to use the nightmare scenarios it would cause for local governments to paint Blackwell and the GOP as incredibly extreme and out-of-touch.? Even after the GOP-controlled General Assembly passed a watered-down version of it to neutralize the issue, the damage was done, and the GOP never recovered from it.

Same thing is true with Kasich’s tax repeals (which would equal roughly 40% of the State’s entire budget.)? To think that Ohioans out of work aren’t going to care about those ramifications, and Kasich’s own history of cutting training assistance, Head Start, and day-care assistance, isn’t going to matter is just denial.?

After all, if budgets don’t really matter to voters, as Keeling now claims, then why has he and Kasich spent so much energy spinning Kasich’s totally unmerited claims regarding his record on budgets the centerpiece of his campaign in the first place?