John Kasich is going to win re-election as Ohio’s Governor in a few weeks. If he doesn’t, it will be the biggest popular vote surprise since Barabbas. Down 22 points in some polls, his opponent all but gave up months ago and has been sending his financial support to other candidates. Nevertheless, it is imperative for conservatives to show at the polls and cast their votes for Kasich.
A narrow victory for an incumbent candidate is a warning. A landside victory is a mandate. After a narrow victory over Ted Strickland to win his first term, John Kasich started out as if he had a mandate only to quickly learn that the 49 percent that didn’t vote for him were willing to fight.
Emboldened by the fledgling Tea Party movement in 2010, Kasich took office eager to transform Ohio into an incubator for small government policy. Like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, he set about the necessary but unpleasant task of challenging the right of public unions to collective bargain. Unlike Walker, Kasich included policeman and firefighters in his challenge.
Walker has won in Wisconsin so far, if you call constant death threats and the invasion of Madison by foul-smelling beatniks winning. Kasich’s initiative, however, proved a bridge too far. Ohio voters repealed it by referendum a year into his first term. The loss slowed Kasich but didn’t stop him as he proceeded to balance the budget anyway.
Opponents may argue that he balanced said budget by cuts in funding to local government. As a member of local government, I’ll say that we’ll find a way to get by. I think the saying goes “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.” So it goes with cutting government handouts. If local voters want to fund local government more, they always have that option – and isn’t that where the option should be anyway?
Under Kasich’s leadership, Ohio’s budget was balanced while its income tax was slashed and its inheritance tax eliminated. There is no reason for wealth to flee to Florida anymore, although the wealthy cold still might. Further, the over-collection by the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation has been properly returned to employers.
All of this makes Ohio more attractive for business and investment. A criticism of Kasich is that all the jobs being created during his administration are in the big cities. Well, that may be so far. But the things he has accomplished and the things a landside election mandate will allow are critical to counties like ours that border Indiana, a right-to-work state with private insurance for worker’s compensation. Why is Honda in Indiana and not here? Math.
Kasich hasn’t been a conservative robot – he has sometimes let common sense trump bravado. His base questioned his Medicaid expansion. But some perspective: By passing enabling legislation as Ohio did, the expansion can be easily undone after the initial commitment. If the referendum process would have been used to expand Medicaid, as it was used to protect public unions, it would have been a much more difficult thing to undo as Obamacare falls apart over time.
Perhaps more questionable to diehard conservatives lately is the allowance of Common Core education into our state. This has led to a protest-vote campaign against Kasich this fall. I sympathize with those who wish to purge the party of collaborators and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) – the Democrats didn’t create a $17 trillion debt by themselves. But I would urge some measure of trust for Kasich, who, otherwise, has made the fights he was elected to make in his first term. I would further urge the opponents of Common Core to mimic the public unions and use the referendum process. (Stop by for my signature if you do.)
This election needs to be a mandate, not only for the sake of Ohio, but for the sake of Van Wert County. Ohio needs right-to-work legislation, privatization of worker’s compensation insurance, and elimination of the income tax. Seven states have no income tax – all seven are in the top ten of Forbes magazine’s “Most Business Friendly States.”
Kasich will win the election – that’s not the point. If the conservative base wants second term accomplishments, it needs to be a landslide.