In his interview with Bloomberg News, Gov. Kasich spoke of the importance he attached to his trip to the World Economic Conference in Davos Switzerland this week. “I don’t want to go somewhere just to go somewhere, ” he said of the opportunity to sell Ohio to foreign investors – a marketing practice he’s polished in his efforts to privatize state enterprises.
Such logic of having a motive behind every trip could also apply to his decision to give his State of the State address in Lima on Feb. 10. There will be no friendlier venue for his performance art when he arrives with his list of upbeat economic talking points. For one thing, Lima (pop. 38,693) sits in Allen County, a rural landscape that marks many of Ohio’s red southwestern and central-western counties.
If you guessed that it is heavily Republican, bingo! In 1964, Allen County was one of only four in the state that voted for Barry Goldwater. In the 2010 gubernatorial election, the county gave Kasich nearly a 20 pt. margin while he was eking out a 2-pt. victory over Ted Strickland.
The cheering section has already begun to welcome the governor. On Sunday, the Lima News – a conservative paper if ever there was one – headlined its editorial: “State of the State a big deal.”
The editorial then recounted the various ways that the governor deserved credit for his days in Columbus. It pointed out that he will arrive with his “highest approval rating since taking office four years ago”. Unmentioned: a slight plurality of Ohioans still doesn’t think he deserves a second term.
The paper then itemized the topics that Kasich would likely feature, including, jobs, tax reforms and school funding. It further told the readers that unemployment in the county has dropped four points since Kasich took office, and glowed over “Ohio’s strong economic resurgence.”
You wonder whether other states that have shown a dramatic turn for the better under the Obama Administration will claim all of the credit for its own political operatives. (Hint: stock market at five-year high, housing sales five-year high, auto sales up 7 pct. and predicted to go much higher in 2013.
A few years ago, I drove through that part of the state en route to Lima for a guest lecture at the Lima campus of Ohio State University. From Columbus on to Lima, the landscape was mostly agricultural with distant farmhouses beyond the fields. It also was the first time that I heard a voice that was to become familiar in the presidential race: Herman Cain, the host of a call-in radio show in which Obama was roasted. Cain wasn’t familiar to me at the time, but I didn’t change the station because many sounded alike with religious or conservative hosts. But the trip give me an updated view of a culture many breeds apart from urban Ohio.
For Kasich, it is his considered “somewhere ” to make a re-election statement. He’s well prepared for the expected giddy reception he will receive .