The official Ohio Governor’s Residence, which is currently not being used by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

It’s clear to most everyone not blind drunk from guzzling too much fake news brewed by friends and allies mesmerized by President Donald Trump’s erratic, post-traditional and potentially sinister behavior, that the New York billionaire’s promise to Make America Great Again has failed in so many spectacular ways after just six months of on-the-job training.

Worry, unease, and buyer’s remorse are now prominent among voters who could drain Trump’s new swamp in Washington if they redirect their angst to next year’s midterm elections by installing new representatives in Congress who will stand up to the Big Orange Machine in ways today’s current crop of cowardly Congressional Republicans would do if only they had the political courage to do so. Sources report that Congress overall has an 11 percent approval rating, far worse than Trump’s record low job approval rating of 41 percent.

Almost everything the White House takes credit for, that’s been good for the economy and workers, was started by the last president, Barack Obama, who inherited a nation in free fall after two terms of tax giveaways and unnecessary wars, courtesy of the George W. Bush Administration.

Whether it’s the rise of the stock market from where Bush left it or a low unemployment and inflation rate, or private sector jobs created, the Obama years cut a path forward that gave Trump a nation largely recovered from domestic and international disasters created by Bush’s Great Recession and his two trillion-dollar wars.

Uphill In Ohio

Ohio, a one-time purple state now-turned red that helped Trump win the presidency by beating Hillary Clinton by more than eight percentage points last year, also has an uphill battle. It’s an uphill battle the next governor will inherit after two-terms of John Kasich’s administration that, according to U.S. News’ ranking of best states, has put the Buckeye State in the bottom half of states in a majority of the key categories it measured.

As Ohio’s governor leaves the state to appear on national political talk, garnering praise for defending expanded Medicaid as delivered under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the sole position that endears John Kasich to Democrats and myopic media, his power and prowess back home ebbs each day, as a tide of Republican lawmakers sensed their power and overrode 11 Kasich budget vetoes, while delaying until a future date the most hurtful veto of all, that would undo the lame-duck governor’s acceptance of Medicaid expansion.

One of eight declared candidates so far to fill Kasich’s job as state CEO next year won’t like the taste of how Ohio fares in the U.S. News report on states, which covers seven critical categories: Healthcare, Crime and Corrections, Education, Infrastructure, Opportunity, Economy and Government.

The current candidates for governor include Attorney General Mike Dewine, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor for Republicans, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state Rep. Connie Pillich, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni for Democrats.

35th Out Of 50

According to U.S. News, out of 50 states, Ohio ranks 35th overall. When measured on the seven categories above, the Buckeye State ranks in the bottom half of states on five of the seven: Health Care (29), Education (38), Crime & Corrections (34), Infrastructure (40), Opportunity (18), Economy (31) and Government (12).

Likely to still be saddled with a very socially and fiscally conservative legislature, the next governor, if it’s a Republican, won’t put raising taxes on the table for those most able to pay more, like wealthy individuals and corporations. If a Democrat should become governor, the battle with a GOP-led General Assembly will be a battle royal to see who can survive the veto games.

If Republicans somehow lose their super-majority status in either the Ohio House or Senate, overriding the next governor, especially if it’s a Democrat, becomes a problem, which fortifies the strength of the governor’s office. If a Republican fills Kasich’s post – and Las Vegas odds-makers surely will give the best call for Republicans to continue their statewide winning streak over Democrats who have been decimated in the last three election cycles – the arm-wrestling contest up ahead with lawmakers may not be full of thunder and lighting, but it also won’t be a pretty picture either.

Sisyphus On The Rocks

For the next governor to Make Ohio Great Again, the combination of electoral luck, a message that gives Ohioans hope again, and a Trump White House that continues to impale itself on big issues Americans want resolved without further gridlock, will be the recipe for moving Ohio from the bottom half to the top half. Lots of policies and programs can be proposed that may or may not, over time, work. But Ohio’s big Achilles’ Heel is it stagnant status on population growth.

Stuck in a Twilight Zone of about equal in- versus out-migration, Ohio’s moribund population growth isn’t the jolt to jobs that it is in states like Texas, where population growth means it gains political power in Washington while Ohio loses it after each succeeding U.S. Census that shows people prefer greener pastures in western and southern states.

Pushing a rock uphill, as Sisyphus will tell you, is hard, especially when it reaches the top then hurtles back down again. Such is the challenge for Ohio’s next CEO, regardless of political party.

 

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