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September 1, 2015 6:32 am

Don’t Underestimate John Kasich

avatar by Eric Rozenman

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Don't underestimate John Kasich as a potential presidential candidate. Photo: Facebook.

Don’t underestimate John Kasich as a presidential candidate. Photo: Facebook.

Ohio Governor John Kasich hasn’t broken out of the pack of Republican presidential nomination hopefuls, but early coverage generally has been favorable. Conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin has derided him as an anchorless establishment Republican, but a word of caution based on personal experience: Never underestimate John Kasich.

In 1978, the 26-year-old Kasich became the youngest person ever elected to the Ohio Senate. He knocked off Democratic incumbent Robert O’Shaughnessy, winning 56 percent of the vote. That was not supposed to happen. O’Shaughnessy family members had populated the Ohio General Assembly and Columbus City Council for years.

But Kasich had spent months going door-to-door, connecting with O’Shaughnessy’s constituents. I was a reporter at the old Columbus Citizen-Journal, and the city editor assigned me to do a post-election interview with the surprise winner. Before answering my first question Kasich peremptorily corrected my mispronunciation of his last name: not Kay’-sich but Case-ick.’

Four years later, he swept a Republican primary to win the congressional nomination. In the general election, Kasich beat the Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Shamansky, whose press secretary I then happened to be. Shamansky had grabbed an upset win himself in 1980, ousting a 22-year Republican incumbent by five percentage points. Named to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he dealt with the Saudi AWACS sale, Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, and the invasion of Lebanon, among other issues.

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But he wound up on the wrong side of his own party’s Speaker of the Ohio House, the powerful Vern Riffe. Redistricted, Shamansky lost 50 to 47 percent to Kasich, who during the campaign again spent months going door-to-door.

So in January 1983, I was looking for work. Hired by the Columbus Jewish Federation as community relations director, I went back to Washington that spring for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference. At the congressional dinner, I was seated with other Buckeyes, including new Congressman Kasich. The conversation was informal and wide-ranging but, considering he’d caused me to be unemployed only months before, not awkward.

We had a more serious, one-on-one telephone dialogue a few months later. Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah terrorists had blown up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 service members. Kasich questioned the Reagan Administration’s continued deployment of U.S. forces in Lebanon.

I called to urge a sustained American counter-attack against the terrorists and those behind them. I expected to speak to a staff member but Kasich himself came on the line. A first-name conversation ensued during which the Congressman remained unswayed by my arguments. At the Iowa State Fair this year he called himself a “cheap hawk,” favoring a strong military but wary of Pentagon overruns — and still, perhaps, of multifaceted overseas commitments.

In 1984, Kasich won the first of eight reelections to the House, never with less than 67 percent of the vote. Along the way, he became chairman of the Budget Committee, first jumping over six Republicans with more seniority to emerge as the committee’s ranking minority member.

He left Congress after 18 years, and his 2000 run for the GOP nomination ended almost as soon as it began.

By then I had returned to Washington, editing the Washington Jewish Week and B’nai B’rith’s International Jewish Monthly, among other things. I hadn’t seen Kasich for more than two decades — except when channel-surfing brought me to his Fox TV show From the Heartland with John Kasich, which aired from 2001-2007. Then one day I ran into him on a Capitol Hill sidewalk. I reintroduced myself, shook hands and said, “I hear you’re going to run for governor.” He gave a dismissive shrug and said, “Don’t believe everything you hear.”

Generally good advice, but in 2010, Kasich defeated the Democratic incumbent, Governor Ted Strickland, 49 percent to 47. He won reelection in 2014 with 64 percent of the vote.

Early this year a National Journal feature referred to the 62-year-old Kasich’s impatience as “a visible force.” It also mentioned his “cheeky” and “brash” personality. Former Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial page editor Brent Larkin went farther in a commentary headlined “Ohio Gov. John Kasich runs the risk of being perceived as a jerk.”

Maybe, but not so far on the campaign trail. And when Bob Shamansky died in 2011, Kasich attended his funeral, entering and leaving through a side door to attract as little attention as an incumbent governor with a security detail could. Another former Shamansky staffer, never a Kasich fan, called it a classy gesture.

Is John Kasich presidential timber? Time and campaigning should tell. In the meantime, those who underestimate him may find themselves overmatched.

The writer is a Washington, D.C.-based news media analyst. Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Dave Francis

    TRUMP IS GOING RESOLVE THE ISSUES THE PEOPLE WANT, NOT WHAT THE CORRUPT POLITICIANS, AND THEIR DONORS DEMAND?

    JOHN KASICH, ALLOWED 45000 MUSLIMS INTO OHIO FREE APARTMENT, WELFARE, MEDICAL AND OBVIOUSLY FORGOT AMERICANS, KASICH COLLECTED $200.000 DOLLARS FROM GEORGE SOROS, EXTREME SOCIALIST ADVISOR. KASICH SUPPORTED BY GOLDMAN-SACHS SHARIA COMPLIANT LOANS THAT ARE A THREAT TO THE CONSTITUTION AND THE REPUBLIC. KASICH ALSO VOTED ‘YES’ ON BILL CLINTON’S 1994 GUN BAN. IN AUGUST 2015 KASICH “I’M FINE WITH ABORTION; IT IS THE LAW OF THE LAND.” AND KASICH SUPPORTED OBAMACARE IN THE STATE OF OHIO. INCLUDING HIS PRO COMMON CORE STANCE AND IN CONCLUSION HE WANTS TO CLOSE MILITARY BASES.

    KASICH APPROVED OF NAFTA (MEXICO) THAT IS DRAINING OFF OUR AUTO MANUFACTURING AND THOUSAND OF JOBS AND COMPANIES AND THAT HAVE VANISHED.

    Ohio lost 112,500 jobs due to Kasich trade with transpacific partnership (TPP) countries owing to KASICH.

    During which 2016 GOP presidential contender John Kasich (R-OH) pledges to submit a comprehensive immigration reform plan that includes a path to legalization to Congress in the first 100 days of his Administration, if he is elected President.

    Whether you believe it or not Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasick in one way or another have had a positive attitude to the illegal alien invasion. If one of them becomes the nominee, it’s unfortunate, but they are condemned to do any favor for the donors who are paying their way through the primaries–it always is a definite conclusion. Each year the annual cost goes up and currently it’s over $150 Billion dollars, exactly the same amount that Obama and Kerry is sending to the Imams of Iran.

    10 illegal alien facts from the National Immigration Center (NIC)
    1. More than 35% of all Food Stamps are given to illegal aliens.
    2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles country for illegal aliens.
    3 Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking crops, but 41% are on welfare.
    4. More than 66% of all births in California are to illegal aliens on Medi-CAL, Paid for by U.S. Taxpayer.
    5. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties in the US are illegal aliens.
    6. More than 39% of California students are illegal aliens.
    7. 75% of La’s most wanted are illegal aliens.
    8. More than half of all gang members are illegal aliens.
    9. US companies are using illegal aliens in 2005 and profited over $2.36 Trillion dollars.
    10. U.S. Taxpayers are footing the bill for all illegal aliens.

    In a new report that was quietly released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE admits that since 2010, it has released under orders from the Obama Administration, 124 illegal aliens from jail. While that may not sound like a big deal to many people, especially Liberals, you should also know that those same 124 illegal alien have gone on to be charged with the murder of 138 American Citizens.

    RUBIO LEFT FLORIDA BEHIND AND HAS NOT BEEN SEEN IN FLORIDA FOR TWO YEARS. NOW HE COMES BACK BEGGING FOR VOTES. RUBIO HAS MISSED 101 VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE. NOW HAS THE WORST VOTING RECORD IN SENATE HISTORY. COLLECTS A CHECK FROM TAXPAYERS AND VANISHES FOR YEARS.

    Trump is at the ready to rescind every illegal executive orders of Obama, according to article 1 of the Constitution, In furtherance every FREE TRADE agreement will be renegotiated by the Donald Trumps and if they don’t play by the rules, then all their products will be taxed at 37%. America for instance has a federal deficit with China of $550 Billion dollars and Mexico 50 billion dollars.

    In the last few days 54 Private Jets flew into a secret conference on a private island off the coast of Georgia. Accommodating personages hidden from the media that was locked out, a group of Billionaires, high Tech CEO’s, the GOP Establishment class and other insiders cooperating the wealthy donors and profiteers Their topic, ‘how to steal the Republican nomination from Donald Trump and the American people–So they can all continue to RAPE AMERICA!

  • RichardM

    As a registered Republican I can safely say I will not vote for Kasich. If it comes down to that I’ll vote for myself.

  • Jim Bickford

    If Hillary gets the nod, kasich could get the Trump vote. Trump is getting traction but may not ultimate want the job. If kasick selects Nikki Haley as his running mate they will be unbeatable.

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