By Dr. Robert Fitrakis
June 1, 2009
Former Chair of the House Budget Committee John Kasich of Ohio formally declared his candidacy for governor of Ohio June 1, 2009. His timing could not have been worse. As a Congressman, Kasich championed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and worldwide free trade. Now he announces for governor of Ohio, as General Motors files for bankruptcy. It will be interesting to see how Kasich, who focused recently on eliminating Ohio’s income tax, plans to explain how his free trade policies that sent tens of thousands of Ohio jobs to Mexico and China will help the state weather what looks more and more like a Depression.
With over 10% of the state’s labor force officially unemployed, Kasich will also have to explain his ties to the bankrupt and defunct investment banking firm Lehman Brothers. After leaving Congress in 2000, Kasich took a job as managing director of the Columbus, Ohio investment banking division of the company. Kasich, like the assets of Lehman Brothers, ended up with the British banking firm Barclays.
So, while Kasich’s candidacy has that 1936 Alf Landon for President disaster feel, he should not be counted out first and foremost, because of the Fox Factor. As the former host of the neo-hokum “Heartland with John Kasich” show and a frequent guest host filling in for Bill O’Reilly on the “O’Reilly Factor,” Kasich is a political celeb with his own propaganda machine.
Moreover, in his early political campaigns, Kasich was aided by followers of the self-proclaimed Messiah, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Moon’s ties to the Washington Times, the UPI, and other publications, could serve as an asset to Kasich as well. Moon’s past history of passing money to Republican Party candidates may also prove beneficial.
With his Wall Street and Moon connections and celebrity status, Kasich could claim the Statehouse in a floundering economy where Governor Ted Strickland often appears as a paralyzed moderate with little vision to initiate a green revolution in the state. If President Obama’s stimulus fails to stimulate the Buckeye State economy, Kasich’s “maverick” image as a budget cutter may appear as a fresh and wholesome alternative to economic stagnation.
Kasich, a 1974 graduate of The Ohio State University, frequently stresses his blue-collar background and his father who worked as a postman. Both of his parents were tragically in a 1987 automobile accident which Kasich has spoken and written about. He’s authored two books Courage is Contagious and Stand for Something: The Battle for America’s Soul. The genre they best represent is re-worked Horatio Alger rags to riches myths.
Kasich is running for governor in 2010 during Congressional off-year elections. A victory in Ohio, our nation’s great barometer state, would indicate future problems for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.
Republican State Senator Kevin Coughlin of Cuyahoga County is also seeking the Republican nomination for governor.
The Democratic Party pre-empted Kasich’s announcement by leading an onslaught against him as the “candidate of Wall Street.” The Ohio Dems can also take solace in the fact that Kasich’s 2000 run for president was a certified debacle. He withdrew early after achieving status as perhaps the Republican’s leading non-entity in the field.
Kasich will no doubt stress the fact that the budget was balanced in the years he chaired the House Budget Committee. Here Kasich can claim he worked with Bill Clinton to stimulate the economy and restore fiscal responsibility.
While the Dems blast Kasich’s Wall Street connections, Ohio’s Republican Party Chair Kevin Dewine is busy attacking Gov. Strickland for the loss of 300,000 in Ohio. Their theme is that the Democrats committed to fix economy, but it’s just getting worse. “The only Ohioan who deserves to lose a job in this economy is the guy who promised to turn it around and failed miserably,” Dewine said in a statement.
Still, Governor Strickland’s popularity remains high and President Obama’s even higher. Yet, those numbers may begin to fall if the hope of real reform and change is seen as empty campaign rhetoric rather than the reality of a new high-tech sustainable Buckeye economy.
Bob Fitrakis is Editor of freepress.org, is a political theorist, ran against against Kasich for the 12th District of Congress in 1992 and ran as a Green candidate for Governor in 2006. This article was originally published by https://freepress.org.