By Marc Kovac
The head of the Ohio Democratic Party took a pre-emptive strike at Gov. John Kasich on the eve of his historic State of the State speech in eastern Ohio.
Chris Redfern said Kasich should give accolades to President Barack Obama and former Gov. Ted Strickland for instituting reforms that have led to a rebound in jobs numbers.
And he said the governor’s decision to offer the annual address to lawmakers in Steubenville instead of in Columbus was anything but courageous.
“It doesn’t take courage to go to the best-performing school in the state,” Redfern told reporters. “It takes courage to go to the worst.”
He added, “It doesn’t take courage to accept all of the credit. It takes courage to take some of the blame. And I’m sure we’re not going to hear much of that out of Gov. Kasich in Steubenville, judging the way he’s behaved over the course of the last 13-14 months as governor and certainly over the course of his public life.”
Kasich will offer his State of the State speech before a special joint session of the Ohio House at 1 p.m. today in Steubenville at the Wells Academy, a high-ranking public elementary school.
He’s expected to pinpoint additional initiatives to further job creation in coming months, via improved job training offered through Ohio’s education system and the potential economic impact of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as a means to extract oil and gas from deep underground shale formations beneath much of the eastern portion of the state.
Redfern made his comments Monday under the assumption the governor, as he has in recent months, will use the State of the State address to tout his administration’s accomplishments in boosting Ohio’s overall economy and work-force numbers.
Kasich credits the work of state agencies and the new JobsOhio private nonprofit for creating or retaining more than 80,000 jobs during his first 12 months in office.
But Redfern said the credit for those jobs should go to Obama and Strickland, whose economic policies — specifically funding for automobile manufacturers that was opposed by Republicans at the time — set the stage for Ohio’s recovery.
“The fact of the matter is that Gov. Kasich’s record over the course of the last year has been woeful and pitiful,” Redfern said. “And he may try to escape to Steubenville and avoid the prying eyes of the statewide media and those who want to ask the questions. ... But at the end of the day, we’ll ask the tough questions and we’ll demand the tough answers.”
For his part, Kasich told reporters late last month he was willing to give credit the president or anyone else, as long as Ohioans are able to find jobs.
“I could care less who gets the credit,” Kasich said. “Are you kidding? ... If a family gets a job, I don’t care who gets credit for it.”