It’s probably not a stretch to say that few Republican officeholders really liked Ohio Gov. John Kasich, before or after he became governor. But they had to accommodate the great reformer’s petulant personality and sanctimonious self after he squeaked by Ted Strickland in 2010.
Kasich’s agenda included lots of senseless razzle dazzle, including setting up cities to be plundered, stealing from the poor to give to the rich, promising job creation that’s way to slow, creating obstacles women have to hurdle to access their constitutional rights, signing bills that created badly gerrymandered districts, toppling a potential ballot box threat, resetting Ohio’s nation-leading energy standards, and helping to suppress the vote. All these contributions Kasich made, that media ate up along the way, have panned out poorly so far for most Ohioans.
The days of schmoozing Kasich are over. Now that he’s term-limited and a lame-duck in Columbus, where GOP legislative leaders told Kasich thanks for his budget plan, but we’re going to do what we want, and if you don’t like it, tough, use your veto pen and we’ll override it. Don’t count on DC beltway media to know their favorite dancing bear can’t really dance very well anymore, at least back home where they know him best.
As the darling of national media these days, Kasich is invited to Sunday shows to be his sanctimonious self, as he bashes Trump then leads disgruntled Republicans in denouncing the Tweeter-in-chief, all the while continuing his audition for national chaplain, an office that doesn’t exist but one he would qualify for if it did.
The piñata party on Kasich is just starting, as the first gathering of Republicans who want to replace him clearly showed that any awe Kasich held with Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Congressman Jim Renacci, or his side-kick-in-chief, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, is gone.
Many news groups covered the above-mentioned GOP candidates swinging their piñata stick at Kasich last Sunday, when each of the four had 20-minute interview with GOP pollster Frank Luntz, in a Columbus church before a crowd of more than 500 people.
According to one report by WOSU, “The most telling moment of the forum happened when moderator and Republican pollster Frank Luntz turned to the audience with two questions: ‘Who’s got a favorable impression of John Kasich, your governor?’ There was slight applause. Luntz rephrased his question: ‘Who has an unfavorable impression of him?’ The applause was appreciably louder and was accompanied by cheers …”
Kasich has been coddled by Ohio media for most of his seven years as governor. Even as recently this week, a Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial whose headline appeared to take on Republicans in Columbus, “Redistricting ‘reform’ brought to you by Ohio GOP leaders scared of a ballot issue,” failed to include Kasich as one of the ring leaders behind the problem the paper was crying about.
“The Ohio General Assembly’s Republican leadership is trundling out a time-tested Statehouse response to demands for congressional redistricting reform: Deflect, divert, stall – and, if that fails, confect a purported ‘reform’ of its own, which would be anything but,” the PD explained.
Back in 2011, Kasich was one of three officeholders — the other two being auditor and secretary of state — who ran the redistricting committee that redraws maps following the census taken every ten years. The PD wrote their editorial without mentioning Kasich even once that he was a key member of the Apportionment Board and in 2011 signed into law Ohio’s Congressional district map, which is now seen as one of the most gerrymandered in the nation. Always trying to be on both sides of an issue if he can, Kasich has since seen the light, saying he’s against creating “overly partisan districts.”
It’s expected that Democrats will pile on Kasich for one budget after another that set new spending records, which is quite an achievement for someone who prides himself on being “a conservative” and who’s been on a decades-long quest for balanced budgets, especially at the federal level.
With Republicans unafraid anymore to take whacks at the Westerville wizard for fear he’ll get even with them some how, some way, the next year will be fun to watch as Republicans take swings at the Kasich piñata. DeWine, Taylor, Husted, and Renacci don’t want to be seen as undertaking Kasich’s third term, even though their mindsets are virtually identical on so many issues.
If the sentiment expressed by Nan Whaley, Dayton’s Democratic mayor who has declared her candidacy for governor, is any indication of how little quarter will be given to Kasich, the great reformer might want to retune his thoughts on how successful he’s been as the state’s leader.
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of sanctimonious politicians who think they have the right to legislate women’s reproductive choices,” Whaley recently told her fan base as she swung her piñata stick Kasich’s way.
It’s easy for Kasich to call any discouraging words about his terrible record “politics” practiced by “politicians” when Democrats bash the former Fox News talk show host and Lehman Brothers banker. It won’t be as easy to make the same claim when elected leaders in his own party in Ohio distance themselves from his record, to win votes with the Trump base requires playing pin the tail on the elephant, with the elephant in the room in this case being John R. Kasich.
Even Strickland, who served one term as governor from 2006-2010, is torn on Kasich. When Strickland compares the candidate who beat him by only 77,127 votes statewide to other Republicans, Kasich gets a passing grade.
But he also sees Kasich as ineffective. “I don’t see any evidence that he’s having much of an effect in changing the attitudes of the Republican base,” Strickland said, according to Plunderbund reporter David DeWitt. “When the four declared Republican candidates for governor are willing to imply criticism of Gov. Kasich because of his moderate positions, I think that means they perceive the base of the party to still be pretty far to the right.”