Last month, national Democrats picked Philadelphia over Columbus for their 2016 national convention. In one poll after another, that nominee, widely expected to be Hillary Clinton, beats the GOP field of aspiring White House dwellers.
Some insiders have suggested that the decision was partially due to Columbus’ mainstream newspaper and its long history of allegiance to Republicans in general and Gov. John Kasich in particular. There is little doubt The Columbus Dispatch would print all it could to trash Democrats and their future White House nominee from its front row seat at 34 South Third Street. Gov. Kasich, who won a final term last fall, has the paper’s complete support, as is constantly demonstrated on its front and editorial page.
Winning Pennsylvania, now that it has a Democratic governor again after voters booted its Tea Party CEO out last fall, can be achieved by winning big in Philadelphia, much like winning a statewide race in Ohio is achieved by winning big in Cleveland. Now that Ohio elected the same slate of GOP candidates last year who won big in 2010 and national Republicans picked Cleveland, a perennial contender as one of the nation’s biggest poor cities, as their coronation venue, it might be a little suicidal for Democrats to come to Columbus and suffer the slings and arrows that would inevitably be shot from the likes of Ohio’s not-so-greatest home newspaper. That might make as much sense as President Obama thinking Fox News would endorse him and his policies if he just tried a little harder to win their favor.
The legacy Columbus newspaper can’t write enough about this governor’s self-styled brand of Republicanism, which differs little from old-line positions and issues the GOP has held near and dear for a century or more, in spite of his claim he’s not your father’s Republican. Routinely declaring it’s his right to rebrand the party in his image, Gov. Kasich knows he can count on the capital city’s newspaper to sugar coat his bitter positions enough to help pave his way to the national ticket as the hopes of others actively courting that opportunity fizzle and fade over the next 20 months before voters nationally pick their next commander-in-chief.
So while virtually no one nationally is currently in Gov. Kasich’s corner, Central Ohio media is trying to spin his lack of name recognition and poor poll results as exactly the scenario that will beat a path to his door as the last viable man standing in an already crowded field of aspiring GOP candidates, which include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current hottie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. According to reliable national polling, the forecast is that neither will light enough voter fires to win the day on Election Day 2016.
Gov. Kasich looks more like a political Jack-In-The-Box in National Journal’s long look at his Quixotic antics, which has him popping up and scaring people with his personal brand of intimidation. The go-go CEO has again turned on his friends by proposing to hike taxes in order to dole the cash back out to the state’s wealthy class in the form of tax-subsidized reductions. “The proposed plan does not look to create greater efficiency within government in order to support tax cuts,” nine prominent chambers of commerce from around the state recently wrote in a letter to Gov. Kasich and House and Senate leaders.
“Instead, this plan shifts the tax burden from one group to another, pitting different types and sizes of businesses and individuals seemingly against each other while government spending continues to grow.” It’s deja vu all over again as the chambers attacked the governor’s plan to hike the Commercial Activity Tax, which is added at every level in the economic process of delivering goods and services to market. These voices of business warned his plan could make Ohio less competitive with non-Ohio firms.
Kasich’s strategy to lay back and watch the field devour itself, and then look to him as Savior, might play well with Team Kasich dreamers, but it shows just how weak he is at the national level. What will make him even weaker will be the pushback from business to his tax plan, which he again dropped without much, if any consultation with actual business leaders.
As he’s done before, Gov. Kasich loves to poke the hornets nest by not including the business sector in pre-planning. “This is not the first time a Kasich tax package has faced resistance from the business community — he found similar reactions to his proposals in 2013 and 2014 — leaving some business association leaders to wonder, privately, why he doesn’t seek more buy-in before unveiling his proposals,” the Columbus Dispatch dared to write.
Ohio’s governor, who claims to be student of the Bible and who says he’s only doing what the Lord wants him to do, relishes the role of Daniel in the lion’s den, because it feeds his ego to be attacked, which in turn only convinces him of his unwavering righteousness on any number of closely held beliefs that regularly don’t stand up to reality. From reducing income taxes to create jobs and prosperity, to his disconnect between bad social policy and economic development, Gov. Kasich wears his Don Quixote badge proudly.