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Gov. Kasich can hear 2016 calling

Published: Sun, August 17, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

So, why is Ohio Gov. John Kasich coming all the way from Columbus to attend Monday’s installation of Jim Tressel as president of Youngstown State University?

The official reason given by the governor’s communications director, Rob Nichols, is that Kasich and Tressel are friends.

Nichols explained that while there have been other university presidents installed in the 44 months his boss has been in office, they were out-of-staters. In other words, Kasich didn’t know them the way he knows the former football coach of Ohio State University and YSU and former vice president for student success at the University of Akron.

So much for the official explanation.

But, no columnist (in these dog days of summer) would pass up the chance to speculate on the real reason a Republican governor would venture into a heavily Democratic region that he has little chance of carrying in the November general election. Kasich is being challenged in his re-election bid by Democrat Ed FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County executive.

Collective bargaining

Indeed, after the Senate Bill 5 (collective bargaining reform law) controversy in 2011, the governor is viewed with much suspicion in the pro-union Mahoning Valley. Kasich and the Republican-controlled General Assembly rammed through SB 5 that stripped state workers off many collective bargaining rights they’ve enjoyed for nearly three decades.

Reaction to the law from the private and public sector labor unions and the state Democratic Party was fast and furious. They collected more than 1 million signatures to put the law up for a referendum vote. The turnout in the 2011 general election was huge, and when the ballots were counted, more than 60 percent of the voters rendered the collective bargaining reform law null and void.

Since then, Kasich has been trying to make nice with the unions. Why?

Let’s speculate.

The governor, who served in Congress and was chairman of the House budget committee, a managing director of Lehman Brother’s Columbus office and a commentator on Fox News channel, has set his sights on the 2016 presidential election. No, Kasich has not publicly confirmed that he’s going to seek the Republican nomination for president, but several of the moves he’s made politically certainly point in that direction.

Let’s start with the national Republican Party selecting Cleveland — yes, that Democratic stronghold — to host the GOP national convention.

Since Ohio will be the state that decides the presidential election, Kasich would have a clear advantage were he to seek the GOP nomination.

There’s more.

His presence Monday afternoon at Youngstown State University for Tressel’s installation has political implications that can’t be overlooked.

For starters, the governor will be sharing the stage with one of the most popular football coaches in the history of Ohio State. Tressel led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2002. This, after he directed Youngstown State to four Division IAA national football championships.

Tressel’s popularity, as evidenced by the strong support he received from business, political and community leaders for the YSU presidency, is revealing — to say the least.


He was forced to resign from the Ohio State job in May 2011 after it was discovered that he lied to the NCAA about knowing that some of his players had violated the rules by getting tattoos, cash and other items of value in exchange for OSU football memorabilia.

It is instructive that opposition to Tressel’s presidency was muted.

Tomorow’s installation will bring out the Valley’s movers and shakers — and the governor’s presence will endear him to these moneyed disciples of Tress.

In an effort to expand his political base, Kasich has taken positions on a couple of major issues that has put him at odds with the GOP’s right wingers.

He has made it clear on several occasions that turning Ohio into a right-to-work state is not on his agenda. Democrats don’t believe him.

And, the governor’s decision to expand Medicaid — as called for in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — despite the GOP-led Legislature refusing to do so was clearly designed to show he’s a kinder, gentler Republican.


1NoBS(2762 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

It's true that Kasich has been making some gestures as if he's had an epiphany, and no longer hates unions. But anything beyond a superficial glance shows he hasn't changed his views - he's just saying what he thinks he has to say to placate the masses. If he has truly turned over a new leaf, why is he still glomming onto tax money that the local municipalities and schools desperately need? The state has surplus funds, rainy day funds, and all sorts of money to throw around. Why do local schools and governments continue to have to beg for new tax money from voters just so they can keep a portion of what they had, pre-Kasich? That would go much further than his empty claims of not wanting to make Ohio a RTW state. He says he's not doing it while he's doing it. It's not just Dems who don't believe him.

FitzGerald was a non-contender from Day One, and is becoming less and less a threat every day. Any votes he gets will be from people who would vote for Mickey Mouse if that was Kasich's opponent.

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2steivo(540 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

I think Kasich would make a great POTUS or even a great VPOTUS to Ben Carson, I wish he hadn't expanded Medicaid in Ohio, but I guess I could overlook that. I expect that there will be a left wing medi attack on him soon as they first went after Chris Christie for something he knew absolutely nothing about and now its Rick Perry. But first things first, we need to elect him as Governor in a landslide so that he can continue his great work in Ohio.

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3uptowngirl(139 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

If Kasich hears 2016 as Bertram suggests, those are just auditory hallucinations. Kasich has all the appeal of a dried piece of dog dung. His coming to Youngstown is a waste of time. Let's face it of the movers and shakers supporting Tressel's YSU presidency, most are Democrats, some have even been indicted in the Oak Hill mess. No candidate in Ohio is vetted to the degree that a presidential candidate is investigated. Kasich has too much baggage for any national political office that is not a patronage job. Kasich could not win election as the dog warden in Mahoning County.

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4tnmartin(518 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

sigh. St. Paul the Apostle could not win election as the dog warden in Mahoning County if he were to run as a Republican. And Beelzebub could, if he ran as a Democrat. I give you as evidence several current and former officeholders who, while not to Beelzebub's level, were and are ambitious in that direction.
And no, Kasich is no St. Paul, or any other one either. Neither am I.
So that's not a proper criterion. Fact is, he DID win the last time. I'm not a fan of his, by any means, but he's been a vast improvement over his opponents.
I don't think he deserves insults for coming into an area where he's unloved. Might actually call it courage, or willingness to reach out. Certainly YSU needs a major housecleaning, and perhaps now it can happen.

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5tnmartin(518 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Ah, yes, SB5. One of the few, the very few, intelligent and sensible thing that our state legislature has done in decades. It was a good idea. It is STILL a good idea, and it speaks volumes about the lowbrow attitudes in parts of this state that it is no longer in force. We will come to regret it bitterly, as California, Illinois, New York, and others are.
Public employee unions are a dreadful idea, and used to be unknown and generally prohibited by law (and good sense) just about everywhere. Until one of the most overhyped and mediocre at best presidents chose to pay off some political debts to some of his thuggery-based supports.
By the way, some of you spend far too much time in an echo chamber. MOST of the state, and in fact MOST of the responsible citizens of this nation reject your suppositions and look on in amazement at the generational psychopathologies of this area.

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