People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Ohio Gov. John Kasich doesn’t know this or doesn’t care. Always courting the rogue role, the moving target that has defined Kasich over the course of his long career in politics was on display when the maverick politico refused to take up residency in the Ohio governor’s mansion after his thin win in 2010.
Always casting government with original sin, the man who spent most of his life so far drinking from that public trough shunned public housing, choosing instead to remain in his private, secluded home, where millions in taxpayer funds were spent to protect it. His first thought was to be sworn-in there to keep media outside. That plan lasted a short time, until Ohio’s entitled media whined enough that it forced the empirical governor to reluctantly relent. At midnight, in the Ohio Senate, the governor-elect held his ceremony so media could record his new status as a public, not a private, CEO.
The Buckeye State’s quirky, snarky, candid, blunt and sometimes mean and jerky governor is rising in New Hampshire polls, not surprising, given his campaign’s big spending on TV ads there that have gained a little traction among Granite State Republicans, as reflected in new polling showing him tied for third place.
New Hampshire voters in 2012 had 33 candidates to choose from, the largest field in history. By about 40 percent, Mitt Romney won first place with 95,669 votes. Ron Paul, whose son Rand Paul, a Republican Senator representing Kentucky in Washington is in the GOP field now, finished second with 55,455 or 22.8 percent. The field this cycle is also big, but with the early primary now just 400-plus days away from Feb. 9, it’s estimated that, between campaigns and independent groups, almost $4.5 billion is anticipated in political spending on TV ads, which could add another $500 million to totals spent in 2012. Having raised more than $11 million so far, Gov. Kasich will get a share of this bounty.
Kasich’s new team, including his new campaign general, John Weaver, said that once they win the GOP nomination process, they’ll put Hillary Clinton “on the defensive” on day one. While few doubt the governor’s hubris is equal to or greater than his multi-personality ego, which candidate would be on the defensive in such a match-up won’t be the one-way street Team Kasich thinks it will be.
According to a USA Today/Suffolk Poll, Hillary Clinton leads five of the seven leading GOP contenders by a larger margin than any Democrat has achieved in presidential victory since 1964. Meanwhile, even though Kasich said he’s doesn’t play for second place, that’s exactly where others see him landing if Jeb! Bush emerges as top of the ticket. Should the former Florida governor win the nomination, one New York Times columnist says Republican sources tell him Bush will pick Kasich as vice president. If the duo can win Florida and Ohio, they could win the White House.
What’s clear though is that all Hillary Clinton has to do to win is win the same coalition of swing states President Obama won in 2012. Mr. Bush can then go back to being on corporate boards while Mr. Kasich can figure out how to make himself president of Ohio State University as his term-limited Walmart retirement job.
Glass House Governor
Mr. Kasich’s 18 years in congress is an open book that offers a rich field of areas where the Democratic nominee, which could be Hillary Clinton if her inevitability comes true this time, would have the governor on the defensive, on day one, based on the glass house of bad policy choices he’s made that don’t look any better today than when he first embraced them at the start of his career in 1978. From his poor, ideological choices on women’s rights and same-sex marriage to his bad decisions on jobs, the environment, voting rights and democracy to his vindictive policy to rob local governments and schools of funding that he sequestered in emergency and income tax cuts for the wealthy, Gov. Kasich’s claim that he’s “for us” is easily dismissed as just political posturing designed to mask a bad set of policy and budget choices.
Kasich is legend at quips, riffs and other nonsequitars that gain attention but only hint at what he’s critical of rather than any pro-active plan he’s for. His Teflon tenure as state CEO only further muddles where he stands on any variety of topics or issues. If Ohio’s fawning media, which gave him a pass last year and has refused to dig deeper into his many weak spots over the years, were the benchmark for electability, Gov. Kasich would already be the GOP nominee. For independent news sources who aren’t vested in the governor’s success and look at him with an unvarnished eye, his folksy homespun hokum of being called by the Lord to help the less fortunate sits in plain site in his glass house as pure pablum for low- or no-information voters.
Once Was Blind, Still Can’t See
Peering out through his glass walls, Gov. Kasich may not know that the image of the Republican Party has grown more negative over the first half of this year, according to the Pew Research Center. Currently, only 32 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 60 percent have an unfavorable view.
From his private residence, the term-limited governor may not know that GOP candidates are better known than liked, according to Gallup. Familiar candidates like Jeb! Bush, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, pose clear challenges for candidates like John Kasich who currently have a much lower national profile.
Plainly unconstitutional but continuing to operate nonetheless, Mr. Kasich’s signature creation, his quasi-public, secret group called JobsOhio, has performed worse than the pubic agency it replaced. JobsOhio is one of other kindred groups created by other GOP governors that have come under fire for excessive pay, loans or lack of transparency.
Ohio’s glass-house governor is no friend of worker unions, which he showed again when he eliminated collective bargaining rights for thousands of home-care providers who work with Ohio’s children, veterans, elderly and disabled. Kasich’s executive order overturned 2007 and 2008 executive orders signed by former governor Ted Strickland giving collective bargaining rights to independent health-care and in-home child-care workers who do business with the State of Ohio.
Whether he cares to notice or not, new polling shows liberals are making a comeback. With gay marriage spreading, now that the Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional, and pot legalization gaining acceptance, Mr. Kasich should take note of new analysis by the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that finds a marked increase in the share of registered voters identifying themselves as liberals, and an even bigger drop in the share saying they are conservatives. Three national polls conducted so far in 2015 find that 26 percent of registered voters identified themselves as liberals — up from 23 percent in 2014. The share of voters identifying as conservatives dropped to 33 percent from 37 percent in 2014.
What should be another wake up call for the glass-house CEO can be found in another Gallup poll, this one showing the percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who describe themselves as both social and economic conservatives has dropped to 42 percent, the lowest level Gallup has measured since 2005. The second-largest group of Republicans (24%) see themselves as moderate or liberal on both social and economic issues, while 20 percent of all Republicans are moderate or liberal on social issues but conservative on economic ones, Gallup reported.
Waiting in the wings is another glass house stone waiting to hit its mark. Among his first hard-ball moves was the removal of Kevin DeWine as state Republican Party Chairman. Kasich’s heavy-handed tactics to remove his political rivals were reportedly the subject of an FBI probe.
The White House is very much a glass house, so maybe one enterprising reporter should ask Ohio’s governor if he would live in it if he won? It would be basic Kasich to do something dramatic, like remain in his Westerville home, and force Washington to come to him. If the governor becomes president, it’s hard to image his ego shunning living in the public housing this time around to remain cloistered in his privatet, wooded domicile back home.