“Righting” Ohio’s ship

Occasional correspondent Joel Mowbray ([email protected]) most recently provided a glimpse of Ohio politics in his report on Josh Mandel. I asked Joel if he would supplement his report with a quick take on John Kasich’s reentry into Ohio politics. Joel reports:

In his first official week as candidate for governor of the buckeye state, former Congressman and Fox News host John Kasich is off to a solid start. He has found traction at the same time as it appears the popular sitting governor, Democrat Ted Strickland, finally may be losing some of his luster.

Despite job approval consistently near 60 percent, times are strange enough that Strickland’s popularity may prove soft. Not so soft as to self-destruct, but perhaps just enough to make him beatable. For proof, the day before Kasich announced, NCR — one of the state’s biggest employers — announced it was moving its headquarters to Georgia.

While Kasich isn’t quite a Sean Hannity or a Bill O’Reilly (for whom he has guest-hosted regularly), his time in the studio has undoubtedly improved his communications skills. What he’ll need to do is introduce himself to voters before Strickland does so very differently. Kasich’s Achilles’ heel is that he did what so many lifelong politicians have done upon leaving office — he got a lucrative job offer in the private sector. What he couldn’t have known then is how ugly it would later look on the resume: Lehman Brothers.

Luckily for Kasich, he has a great story to tell. During most of his nine terms in the U.S. House, Kasich was the leading fiscal conservative in Congress. He laid down the markers for cutting wasteful spending, not even sparing traditional GOP sacred cows like the Pentagon. Considering that he left Washington right as George W. Bush arrived, one wonders if Congress might not have become so profligate so quickly had Kasich stuck around a few more years.

Upon announcing early this week, Kasich said that he would be able to “right the ship.” Given his track record on the Hill, he could do it. The question is: Will he able to convince Ohioans that he’s the guy to do that?

The Kasich for Governor Web site is here. It includes a blog noting NCR’s departure.

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