Opinion: Kasich on top in governor polls

Jennifer Hutchinson is a freshman political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Jennifer Hutchinson

It looks like Ohio Gov. John Kasich is on top — the top 15, to be exact. According to The Fix’s top 15 gubernatorial races of 2014, Kasich’s campaign came in ninth place. Leading his opponent Ed FitzGerald by five points, according to a recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, Kasich seems to be stronger than ever.

When Kasich was first elected back in 2010, he inherited a state ridden by massive debt and job loss. At first he was considered the most unpopular governor in the country, but quickly turned that around.

When it came to Ohio’s economy, Kasich had to go into recovery mode. NPR describes how “Kasich inherited an $8 billion budget shortfall, and now the state is running a surplus and talking about another round of income tax cuts. Ohio lost nearly 400,000 jobs in the four years before he took office, and has gained nearly 240,000 jobs since.”

FitzGerald, a former FBI agent, is relatively unknown to a large number of voters. While he is popular throughout Cuyahoga County, it seems he should spend more time building up his own image rather than simply tearing Kasich’s down.

In addition to name recognition, money will play a huge role in this campaign. According to Cleveland.com, Kasich had more than a 5-to-1 cash advantage at the end of the last reporting cycle, even with FitzGerald receiving generous donations from the Ohio Democratic Party.

FitzGerald’s campaign has been all over the place. Fighting for familiarity among voters, he has spent months targeting specific segments of the Democratic base, from gay-rights advocates to women to black voters.

In addition, he sought the elderly vote by calling for the expansion of a senior citizen property-tax credit known as the homestead exemption, and this week, he and his running mate, Sharen Neuhardt, are promoting equal pay for women.

Kasich, on the other hand, has remained consistent on his economic policies and has even taken a stance on drug addiction and poverty, which most Republican candidates do not address.

With all facts on the table, there’s no doubt Kasich is moving Ohio in the right direction. Connie Wehrkamp, the communications director for Kasich’s re-election campaign, stated, “Every election year you ask voters if they’re better off than they were four years ago, and I think when you look at the governor’s record, the proof is in the pudding.”

If all continues going well for John Kasich, Ohioans could very likely be looking at another term for the governor. While Kasich claims he has no interest in running for president, his actions say otherwise.

Kasich spent this last weekend at the Republican Jewish Coalition rubbing elbows with top donors, including casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The Washington Post reported this week that Adelson is shopping for a “mainstream” Republican to back in 2016.

Despite rumors of whether Kasich will run in 2016, I would be very excited to see his name on the ballot. Being from Pennsylvania, I was not very familiar with John Kasich or his time spent in office.

However, I must say that after learning more about him, I am very impressed. I was especially moved by his recent State of the State address. I believe what he and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor have done economically for Ohio is commendable and is exactly the kind of the recovery the whole country needs to see.

Kasich is presenting new and effective ideas to the table and I am excited to see what lies ahead of him in the coming years.