Before Ohio’s 63-year old governor got the backing of one favorite son of the Deep South, former Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, John Kasich got backed by an equally backward leader, 72-year old Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who jumped on-board Kasich’s crawling White House express in mid-August.
A dermatologist by training, the twice-elected Bentley “proactively reached out to Governor Kasich to offer his support,” a Kasich spokesman said at the time about the endorsement, which was pitched as a “big deal” because it sent a message about Alabama and the GOP presidential primary in the South.
Black Eye Bentley
For any smart, progressive, forward-thinking, 21st century politician, endorsements from the likes of Lott and Bentley would be shameful indeed. But not for John Kasich, his Yankee roots run shallow enough and his political far-right philosophy runs deep enough for these two political leaders, who represent two states that reside at the bottom of the 50 states in too many ways to recount here, from lending their names and reputations to his Quixotic uphill climb to lead Republicans to victory against Democrats next year.
In Alabama, reports say Gov. Bentley’s wife of 50 years, Diane, sued for divorce last week amid rumors of a Bentley affair that had been circulating in Montgomery for more than a year. Alabama’s governor was elected in 2010 like Kasich and reelected again last year like Kasich. Like a kindred Christian theocrat, Bentley praised the heartland governor in a statement, saying, “Coupled with John Kasich’s compassion for the people he serves and desire to make their lives better, our country will be stronger with him as president.”
Bentley campaigned last year using the slogan “More jobs, less government, no new taxes,” all very familiar chords for Gov. Kasich. And echoing the behavior of Gov. Kasich last year, Gov. Bentley refused to debate his Democratic opponent. Meanwhile, Gov. Bentley, like John Kasich, pledged no-new-taxes but raised taxes to fill a $250 million hole in the state’s General Fund budget.
Sadly for Mr. Bentley, he’s making his personal troubles worse by refusing to address his sordid circumstances, saying it’s a private matter. But to some Alabamans and other looking on, his silence is as good as a confession.
Two GOP state representatives are now asking Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to investigate whether Bentley misused his office, particularly with regard to state-owned aircraft. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey is reported to already be making plans for a transition. Gov. Bentley has denied misusing public resources yet refuses to answer any questions about his divorce.
Pete Cox of Eaton, Ohio, mocks Alabama’s governor endorsing Ohio’s governor. In a letter to the editor of the Tuscaloosa News titled “Dismayed that Bentley endorsed Kasich,” Mr. Eaton writes, “As a native of Alabama and a current resident of Ohio, I am troubled and dismayed by this development.” Eaton said he’s “confused by Bentley’s endorsement of a candidate who is vehemently opposed to right-to-work.”
“Kasich has also refused to take funding away from Planned Parenthood and capitulated on gay marriage, in spite of the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed in Ohio and is now part of our state constitution. Perhaps Bentley hasn’t been reading the news lately. Perhaps he is unaware that close to 30,000 Alabama citizens came to see a presidential candidate that was not Kasich. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that Kasich is not liked or supported by people in his own state, and doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting the nomination.
“I hope that the fine people of Alabama will take note that just maybe, Kasich’s policies are attractive to the current governor. Maybe Bentley is preparing to “evolve,” as Kasich claims he has, and that maybe a new Republican primary candidate for the governor’s office is in order.”