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Live from Medina! It's the State of the State address, starring Gov. John Kasich

Ohio Democrats had a moving billboard depicting a troubled Gov. Kasich.
Ohio Democrats had a moving billboard depicting a troubled Gov. Kasich.

For the third year in a row, Republican Gov. John R. Kasich has broken with tradition and delivered his State of the State [SOTS] address from a location other than the Statehouse in Columbus.

In the Medina High School auditorium, site of Gov. John Kasich's 2014 State of the State address, the audience was brought to its feet with thunderous applause on several occasions.
John Michael Spinelli

Unlike last year at this time when frigid temperatures and blowing snow welcomed visitors to Lima, in northwest Ohio, blue skies and scattered white clouds were overhead as the governor, his cabinet and staff, media and the public gathered in Medina, a city of about 173,000, at Medina High School, setting for his fourth, and what could be his last SOTS if he should lose in November, to watch the performance governor talk about Ohio's economy and the jobs the governor promised to produce when he won a tight race in 2010.

In an address that lasted more than an hour, punctuated on several occasions with thunderous applause from an auditorium filled to capacity with about 1,130 people, Gov. Kasich gave an address that was virtually similar in themes from his previous addresses to a joint session of the Ohio legislature.

Kasich sprinkled his remarks with metaphors replete with Biblical overtones, from climbing mountains together to the sun shining on the summit. Early in his speech he touched on the current protests and deaths in the Ukraine, asking his audience to learn from the protesters' efforts for better government. But Kasich believes government is there to serve business, not the other way around, and said as much, bringing his audience to their feet, when he said "people don't work for the government, the government works for people."

Commenting after the speech, Ed FitzGerald, Gov. Kasich's Democratic challenger, said some of what the Governor said sounds reasonable and that he agrees on some of it. "But as is too often the case, what this Governor says he will do and what he has done are worlds apart," FitzGerald, who trails the incumbent Republican by five points in the latest Quinnipiac Poll released last week.

"This Governor has forgotten about the vast majority of Ohioans - its families, police officers and firefighters, teachers, and seniors," he said, adding, "Governor Kasich's agenda for Ohio has too often benefited the well connected and privileged few, while everyday Ohioans remain anxious about the future, living pay check to pay check, worried about saving enough for retirement and putting too little in the college fund ... And this Governor offers no solutions. Just promises."

As he's done since his first year in office, Gov. Kasich has touted how he balanced a budget $8 billion out of whack by not raising income taxes. But Democrats were quick to point out that Gov. Kasich did so by "shifting the financial burden to the middle class and already suffering communities, and he ended a bipartisan agreement, that for decades, kept property taxes down and local communities fiscally stable."

The most emotional moment in the evening's performance was the appearance of the three women who were abducted in Cleveland and kept as hostages by Ariel Castro, an area musician who killed himself in prison.

Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, who were held against their will in Castro's house on Seymour Avenue until May 6, 2013, when Berry escaped with her six-year-old daughter and contacted the police, received Gov. Kasich's 2014 Ohio Courage Medal. As the three walked on stage, audience members rose and applauded, as Gov. Kasich put medals around their necks and engaged in group hug with the victims, whose order captivated the hearts of Ohioans and people around the world.

The Governor’s Courage Award was created by Gov. Kasich to recognize Ohioans whose feats of selflessness and courage can inspire Ohioans to fearlessly overcome challenges to lift up one another and our state. The award was first presented in 2011 when Kasich first took the State of the State on the road to Steubenville’s Wells Academy, the highest-rated public school in Ohio.

Gov. Kasich has authored three books already, with talks of another on the way. Each book recounts the lives of people who he uses to further his theme of "making a difference" in a life.

Before being elected governor, John Kasich served 18 years in Congress representing a conservative suburb of Columbus, then when he retired in 2000, the same year he launched a short-lived attempt to jump into the presidential sweepstakes, he served six years as a Wall Street banker with Lehman Brothers, the investment house whose failure triggered the Great Recession along with hosting his own political talk show on the Fox News Network.

Included in his remarks was an out-of-the-box idea, as Senate President Keith Faber called it, to redirect casino money to education efforts. He also talked about awarding free credit hours to veterans attending Ohio institutions of higher learning.

Including among the topics he covered tonight are the following:

The Cleveland Plan, Breast and Cervical Cancer, Infant Mortality/Karen W. Kasich Involvement, Nestle Relocates Pizza Headquarters from Chicago to Solon, Ohio’s Business Climate Recognized as Most Improved by Chief Executive Magazine, Since 1995, $12 Billion in Income Left Ohio, Value of Mentoring, Ohio’s Progress on Minority Business Hiring Goal, Courage Award Medal Recipients.

At Fox, citizen Kasich hosted "Heartland," a show similar in design to the O'Reilly Factor on the same network. The SOTS addresses Gov. Kasich has produced over the last three years would not be possible in the constrained space in the Ohio House of Representatives, the long-standing venue for Capital Square events like this that in fact a joint session of the State General Assembly.

In previous SOTS shows, giant, a "garrison-size" Ohio flag will be suspended behind the governor, legislative leaders and guests who come on stage. Always a showman, Gov. Kasich, much like a political Music Man, knows the value of perception, and his SOTS events have not wanted for lack of production.

In advance of the governor delivering another well rehearsed sermon on how to produce jobs, gain more government efficiency while reducing so-called burdensome regulations, and balancing a budget without raising taxes, his chief rival, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald used the weekend to launch a preemptive version of the state of Ohio, with support from his running mate, Dayton attorney Sharen Neuhardt, that says Kasich has not only not created jobs in the number and quality he said he would, but he forced austerity on cities, counties and school districts that enabled him to replenish state coffers at their expense.

In the Quinnipiac Poll released last week, Gov. Kasich enjoys positive numbers [50%+] on job approval but after 38 months of being the mastermind behind one reform after another, only 46 percent of those polled says he deserved to be reelected while 42 percent said he shouldn't be reelected. At a gathering of media last Friday, Ed FitzGerald, who the Q-Poll said 70 percent of Ohioans know little about, said if his numbers were as poor as Kasich's are, he would be worried.

While FitzGerald has a full plate of items to be worried about—from having one-fifth as much campaign cash as Team Kasich does not to only having 30 percent of Ohioans know who he is—Kasich not only has FitzGerald to contend with, but now that Libertarian Party candidate Charlie Earl qualified for the ballot this year, the often acerbic, sharp tongued governor has a third-party candidate who can do damage to him by siphoning off as much as six percent of his voter base, according to a poll by Public Policy Polling showing Earl can put a meaningful dent into Kasich's GOP base.,

Gov. Kasich is touting Ohio's rank at 9th in the nation in job creation, but other sources say Ohio is really about 45th, a fact FitzGerald took relish in pointing to last week. Democrats argue that Kasich took over as Ohio was recovering under former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, but under his own steam—with help from a friendly GOP legislature that created a secret nonprofit to run his job creation program—the economy, as he put it on NBC's "Meet the Press," is "stalled."

Ted Strickland inherited a state already sliding from his heyday as a manufacturing Titan, which was soon to be run over by the Great Recession that hit full force in 2007, a year into his first and only term as chief executive. For six straight months, Ohio's unemployment rate was stuck at 10.6, but by the time Kasich took office, it had to nine percent. Today it's 7.2 percent, but that is higher than the national unemployment rate, a trend Democrats point to as proof Gov. Kasich's talk of job creation doesn't hold up to the reality of job creation.

Economic Modeling Statistics, Inc., a nationally known and respected group who manage dozens of job-related data bases, said the majority of jobs created by the Kasich Administration are not paying a living wage of $15-hour.

Being the show of shows it is, the governor's address tonight from Medina will be watched closely by state and national experts who are looking down the road to the next presidential race in 2016. Up until a few weeks ago, Gov. Kasich was at the bottom of the list of potential GOP super stars who hope to have a chance to take on Hillary Clinton, the person smart money says will be the Democratic presidential standard bearer.

Now that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has fallen on hard times in the way of the BridgeGate scandal, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also talked about as a governor who can turn local experience into national dreams, is embroiled in a growing scandal about intertwining his public and campaign teams, Gov. Kasich, who is not immune from controversy stemming from conflicts of interest at JobsOhio, his signature creation, sudden cabinet changes and now emails that show his state parks department was colluding with gas and oil drillers to gain access to state parks, is enjoying the talk of him as a dark horse candidate.

November 4th, Election Day this year, should be Gov. Kasich's to win, but with the Q-Poll showing how weak he is, and with Tea Party activists who claim they pushed him over the finish line in 2010 now turned against him and likely to vote for Charlie Earl of the Libertarian Party, a not far-fetched scenario has Kasich losing in a three-way race, as Earl takes votes away from him that leave Ed FitzGerald governor starting in 2015.

Lima was picked last year because it was a Republican town and because it was the home turf for Keith Faber, President of the Ohio Senate, a strong Kasich Allie in the legislature. This year it was Medina, home to House Speaker William Batchelder, who will retire at the end of this year. Batchelder returned to the House in 2007, having previously served there for 30 years, making him the second longest-serving Member of the House.

The news article "Live from Medina! It's the State of the State address, starring Gov. John Kasich" appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.

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