Published June 27, 2010
Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich’s refusal to jump on the LeBron James Bandwagon became even more of an issue Friday when David Letterman gave his unequivocal support to James’ staying on as a Cleveland Cavalier. The NBA superstar becomes a free agent on July 1 and rumors are swirling about his future.
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and many Cleveland celebrities have appeared in a music video urging James to stay.
But Kasich, a conservative, whose political base certainly isn’t in Northeast Ohio, refused to fully embrace one of the famous residents of the state.
“I’m not singing any chorus for LeBron James,” Kasich told FOX News radio host Alan Colmes. He did say that he hopes the superstar stays with the Cavaliers.
But late night talk show host Letterman had no qualms about embracing the James-Cleveland connection. He told Rapper Jay-Z, a friend of the basketball great:
“You're a guy. I’m a guy. Now, if LeBron James wants to be a guy, he will stay where he is and not cut the heart out of that city by leaving Cleveland.”
Letterman noted that Cleveland is in desperate decline and James is “one of the glimmering hopes.”
So, why would Kasich risk alienating such a huge voting block by appearing to snub the city of Cleveland?
It may well be that the Republican nominee for governor, aware of recent polling that shows a GOP sweep nationally in the November general election, has decided to write off this part of the state. He could be thinking that the old formula for statewide victory in Ohio — keep the vote in Cuyahoga County for the Democratic candidate in the low 60s — does not apply this year.
Indeed, the polls do show that Republicans in Ohio are more energized than Democrats, and so Kasich may have decided that embracing someone like LeBron James does not help him politically.
He may be right — considering the growing unpopularity of President Barack Obama and the Democratic controlled Congress.
On the other hand, his apparent snub of Cleveland — and by extension Northeast Ohio — may well be the spark the fires up Democrats in the upcoming election.