When the presidential nomination of your political party is at stake, as it is for Ohio Gov. John Kasich who finds himself struggling to break out of the low single digits his second campaign for the White House has been mired in despite spending millions to promote himself, which of the 50 states do you court to line up behind you?
If you guessed Mississippi, a Deep South state with an unenviable record of achievements that show why it’s a bottom dweller among the 50 states on so many important fronts, you would be right, far right.
But you’d also be wrong, very wrong.
Kasich’s Kindred Spirits
The AP writes that Mr. Kasich’s presidential campaign has formed an 18-person leadership team in Mississippi that includes former Washington Senate Republican leader Trent Lott and other Deep South GOP backers. The Buckeye State’s term-limited governor is clearly proud of his Mississippi team, but for most other progressive candidates that by itself would be embarrassing for poor judgment alone. Mississippi’s embarrassing record of accomplishments is a good measure of where his ideological allegiance are these days.
In many ways, from their respective obsessive anti-Obama zeal to their records on job creation and virulent anti-women agendas among other issues, Ohio and Mississippi are sister states as much as Mr. Lott and others backing the former Lehman Brothers banker are his kindred spirits.
Ohio’s Development Services Agency reports the per capita personal income is $42,571 compared to the nationwide figure of $46,129, ranking the Buckeye State under Gov. Kasich 29th in the nation. Being in the back half of the 50 states doesn’t seem to be a selling point for Mr. Kasich, but he’s made his subpar job creation record a key selling point for his uphill climb to crack the top tier of GOP candidates.
In it’s 5-year estimate of states ranked by per capital incomes from the 2009-2013, The American Community Survey shows Ohio 29th with $26,046 compared to dead-last Mississippi with just $20,618.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that, from 2011-2014, Mississippi ranked 49th in real Gross Domestic Product per capital compared to Ohio at 18.
Ranked by median household, Ohio pulls in at 35th with $45,749 compared to last place Mississippi at $36,919.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that while Ohio’s unemployment rate for August of 2015 is 4.7 percent, ranking it 21st as thousands drop out of the workforce because Gov. Kasich can’t produce enough jobs for workers who want one, Mississippi ranks 45th with 6.3 percent in the same time period.
According to state rankings by American’s United For Life, a pro-life group, Ohio ranks 17th, just two places ahead of Mississippi at 15th. Gov. Kasich and his superemajority Republican legislature, which has delivered a steady, far-right agenda since 2011, have added 16 new abortion restrictions in five years. Mr. Kasich and his hard-right lawmaker team now want to expand their shameful list by making passage of the Downs Syndrome ban a top priority in the fall legislative session.
State rankings compiled by The W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University show Ohio, year over year, is 36 while Mississippi is at 41.
In 2012, The New York Times reported that Mississippi was the nation’s unhealthiest state and had some of the worst health statistics in the country. “A Mississippi black man’s life expectancy is lower than the average American’s life expectancy was in 1960. Sixty-nine percent of adult Mississippians are obese or overweight, and a quarter of the state’s households don’t have access to decent, healthful food. Adequate grocery stores can be 30 miles away. In one of the country’s most fertile regions, people sometimes have to shop for their groceries at the gas station. Consequently, Mississippians are dying from diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and asthma,” Suzy Hansen wrote for the Times Magazine.
Human Rights Watch calls the Deep South “the epicenter of the H.I.V. epidemic in the United States, with more people living and dying of AIDS than in any region in the country.” Blacks in Mississippi are dying from AIDS at a rate 64 percent higher than the nation’s average.
Now that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, Mississippi holds another unenviable title as the only state in the union where the percentage of uninsured residents has gone up, not down.
Kasich’s Deep South Bench
When Gov. John Kasich takes pride in his Mississippi connections and backers, voters in New Hampshire or Iowa or Nevada or any other thinking state should see it as a window into his heart and soul. Mr. Kasich was happy to have Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley pledge his allegiance to his brother governor from the North. Plunderbund reported that Gov. Bentley’s endorsement of Mr. Kasich was seriously damaged with news of his affair and pending divorce from his wife along with misuse of state resources.
From Alabama to Mississippi, two states at the center of the slave culture that’s haunted America’s history, sons of the Deep South has a kindred spirit in Ohio’s governor, and that should be a red flag that flies high for all.