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Has Kasich set his sights on the Oval Office?

In Business, Economy, Education, Jobs, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Senior Lifestyle, State News, Uncategorized on February 19, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

I am by no means one of the top political minds in the State of Ohio – far from it, in fact – nor do I hold any connections that would give me insight into what might be going on in the governor’s office right now. But, it seems to me (nod to fellow columnist Bill Taylor) that John Kasich has his eye on another chief executive office – the one with the oval-shaped room.

While most commentators are crediting the activity to Kasich’s bid for re-election, given the level of his high-handed agenda over the last two months, it is my belief that the governor is planning a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, or at least the vice-president’s spot on the ticket. A quick review of the governor’s public agenda clearly shows a noted increase in the number of high-profile policy and legislative initiatives, particularly in recent months.

It certainly seems as if he is doing just what a politician should do when he wants to win over both sides for a broader appeal. He’s riding the fence, trying to appease liberals as well as conservatives with nationally controversial legislative changes such as an increase in the minimum wage passed in December, but largely unpopular with republicans. Dangerous, since he is still vulnerable even in a re-bid for his job, but it’s a give and take.

According to political columnist, Chris Cillizz, a September Washington Post poll showed that the republican governor held a 50-percent approval rating. In December, a Quinnipiac University poll gave him a 42 percent overall job approval, with 35 percent disapproving, his highest marks in that poll since inauguration.

He is more popular than ever, possibly more so than his democratic predecessor, Ted Strickland. But, in the last half of his term, he is upping the ante to prove he can lead in tough times and get things done to improve Ohio’s economy even as Washington remains stymied.

Kasich still has a long way to go with a great many negatives on his desk, among them lackluster job numbers, which are currently below the national average. He also has some outspoken opposition to his “rough” demeanor.

In a recent Dayton Daily News report, Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Rob Scott, a Kasich supporter, admitted that the governor sometimes has a harsh approach.

“I think what Gov. Kasich has brought to Ohio is that he’s up front and honest: this is what we need to do and this is how we get there,” Scott said. “And he may run over a couple people, but sometimes to get things done, and to do what’s right, you’ve got to do that.”

If there is a possibility that Kasich is looking towards 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, then the question is, does he have what it takes first to get the attention of a splintered GOP and second, to win over the disheartened voters from both sides of the aisle? At the moment the only conservative frontrunner for the presidential nomination is former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Once an unknown, Ryan had the national stage, often upstaging his running mate with his more down-to-earth demeanor and likeability among the younger voters.

Kasich is getting national attention for his aggressive policies and growing poll numbers, but he’s still not well known outside Ohio and far too conservative even for moderate democrats. But, he might at least get credit for adding some new Ohio jobs in the near future, beginning with Ford’s pending announcement about a new engine plant to be located near Cleveland. The $200 million upgrade will add about 450 jobs to a plant which currently employs approximately 1,300 hourly and salaried workers.

This announcement comes on the heels of Kasich’s State of the State address in which he outlined even bolder plans to achieve his vision for the state. It remains to be seen if he can get legislators to go along with radical changes in taxes and school funding. If he manages to do half of what he’s set out to, he might just have a shot at the big chair in the Oval Office sooner than later.