By Wayne Allen
Ohio Governor John Kasich on Tuesday became the 16th person seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America. Kasich made his announcement on the campus of The Ohio State University.
“Why do you want to do this? I do this for my family, neighbors, friends, and I do it for everyone,” Kasich said during his announcement speech to a near capacity crowd. “I humbly tell you, I have the skills, the experience, and the testing which shapes you and prepares you for the most important job in the world.”
Local politicians have mixed responses to Kasich’s candidacy. The Scioto County Commissioners are taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Kasich’s bid for president. All three commissioners are members of the Scioto County Republican Party.
“They could do a lot worse than Governor Kasich. On the other hand when you look at the shape the county is in, someone as radical as Donald Trump would probably make his mark on history,” Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners Mike Crabtree said.
Commissioners Crabtree and Doug Coleman agreed that Ohio is in a lot better shape financial shape than it used to be.
“(Some of his decisions) have not been very pleasing to some people, but on the other hand it never is when you’re trying to do more with less,” Crabtree said.
Commissioner Bryan Davis said Kasich has stuck to his word and his promises.
“We’ll have to wait and see what he has to offer. There are a lot of people running for president. I do like the fact that he’s from Ohio, but we’ll wait and see,” Davis said.
As budget chairman in the House, he became an architect of a deal in 1997 that balanced the federal budget.
Now in his second term in swing-state Ohio, he’s helped erase a budget deficit projected at nearly $8 billion when he entered office, boost Ohio’s rainy-day fund to a historic high and seen private-sector employment rebound to its post-recession level.
This, through budget cutting, privatization of parts of Ohio’s government and other, often business-style innovations.
The commissioners acknowledged the Kasich Administration has done some good for the area; with the increased awareness and focus on prescription drugs and pain clinics. Many from the area praised Kasich when House Bill 93 was signed into law. State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson helped to craft the legislation.
The commissioners also acknowledged the start of the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway under the Kasich administration. It’s been reported that once all costs are factored into construction and long term maintenance of the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway (Portsmouth Bypass) the roadway will cost the state $1.2 billion.
“He’s delivered on a lot of fronts and it would be nice if that success could be taken to the rest of the country,” Davis said.
Unions that turned back an effort by Kasich and fellow Republicans to limit public workers’ collective bargaining rights say Kasich’s successes have come at a cost to local governments and schools, and that new Ohio jobs lack the pay and benefits of the ones they replaced. They plan a protest outside Tuesday’s launch.
“It would be a blessing if we could get rid of him as governor, but then I don’t think anybody is going to take him as president,” said Scioto County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Basham. “Pulling the tactics that he’s pulled, balancing the state budget on the backs of school teachers, public employees and raising taxes on working families. I don’t think it will work as a national goal, what’s he’s done here as an executive in the state.”
Kasich’s entry nearly rounds out an unusually diverse Republican lineup with two Hispanics, an African-American, one woman and several younger candidates alongside older white men. So many are running that it’s unclear Kasich will qualify for the GOP’s first debate in his home state in just two weeks.
In recent months, he’s made trips to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa, New York and Michigan, and will be returning to early voting states. His allies at the political organization New Day for America reported raising $11.5 million on his behalf before his entry into the race.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT. The Associated Press contributed to this story.