Reports of John Kasich’s Popularity Greatly Exaggerated

February 2, 2018

(Editor’s note:  I was honestly going to send this as a private e-mail to the Hot Air writer Jazz Shaw, but I was unable to find an e-mail address or contact information for him anywhere on the site.  Rather than throw the letter away, I thought I might as well just publish it as an open letter here.  I’ve accordingly also added links to some of the other topics I referenced in the letter.)

Mr. Shaw,

I can’t resist (albeit belatedly) responding to your thoughts on John Kasich’s popularity (or lack thereof) last week.

In particular, you wrote, “In 2014, however, he won his second race by more than 30% and carried 86 of 88 counties. His level of general support was undeniable.”

I’m writing to you as an Ohioan and a middlingly politically active guy (conservative), and I just want you to know that Kasich is extremely unpopular in certain circles, and has been for years. (Optional larger context: From my point of view, he was elected as a Tea Party candidate in the Tea Party wave of 2010, but through poor strategic decisions failed to reform public-sector unions where Wisconsin’s Scott Walker succeeded. I think of Kasich’s governorship as basically all downhill since then, although in fairness he has also accomplished some significant good things as governor, perhaps most notably in the pro-life area. Oddly, the one time I actually saw him give a speech—a commencement address at a public university, of all things—I was very favorably impressed; he managed to give what was really a sermon, and I thought a quite good one, on life and purpose and wisdom, to thousands of youngsters graduating from the University of Cincinnati. I kid you not.)

Specifically, three notes of interest:

1 — Kasich was not only one of the Republican governors who disappointingly chose to embrace the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid; he went further, using a little-known and largely unaccountable state budget review board to circumvent the will of the state legislature. This was particularly galling to a lot of us, because the (Republican-controlled) state legislature would probably originally have accepted the Medicaid expansion on its own, but a significant number of activists mounted a serious uphill campaign to persuade legislators that Medicaid expansion was not in the best interests of Ohioans (or of said legislators’ chances of re-election). It was hard, but we succeeded, and the state legislature opted not to expand Medicaid. Kasich undemocratically imposed his will anyway.

2 — Relatedly, Kasich basically said that anyone who disagreed with him on this question of public policy (in other words, anyone who opposed getting more Ohioans dependent on a failed entitlement program) ipso facto didn’t care about the poor, and would probably not get into heaven (!). This is extremely troubling. I’m used to hearing this kind of smear or argumentum ad hominem from the left, but it is deeply disappointing to hear it from a “conservative” leader. It wasn’t just a slip of the tongue or an ill-advised emotional outburst, either—he said the same or similar on many occasions; it was premeditated, he really means it—but here’s one time where it was recorded on video.

3 — Finally, about those re-election numbers: The Democratic candidate, Ed Fitzgerald, had picked a running mate who turned out to owe a million dollars in unpaid back taxes; Fitzgerald himself was found in a parking lot at 4:30 in the morning alone in a car with “a woman who was not his wife”; and he drove without a driver’s license for years, even while he was a local elected official. You or I would be elected governor by more than 30 points, too, if we were running unopposed! That’s basically what the governor’s race was in 2014. It was so bad that the writer linked above, reviewing the list of scandals that had brought down Fitzgerald’s campaign, was able to predict the outcome of the November elections with certainty—“Not only will Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald lose the election for governor by a huge margin, he’ll probably take the entire statewide ticket down with him”—at the beginning of August.

It’s understandable if no one outside of Ohio has ever heard of Ed Fitzgerald (and after his performance in the 2014 election, I’m sure he’ll never be heard from again), but his scandals are colorful and make a good story, and I think they are relevant and should be mentioned every time anyone mentions Kasich’s re-election numbers. (A potted plant could have been elected governor, if it had been running against Ed Fitzgerald!)

You added, “But you also have to wonder just how much Kasich’s antics during the primary and throughout last year have eroded his support.” I certainly agree. The way I remember it, we might have had Cruz instead of Trump as the nominee, and the conservative movement might not be in the mess it’s in right now, if Kasich had simply dropped out after it was clear that Kasich had no chance of securing the nomination. Instead, he stayed in long enough to split the anti-Trump vote—only to drop out as soon as Cruz had dropped out! At that point, Kasich’s actions seem malicious, calculated only to act as a spoiler. Arguably Kasich is the number-one reason we got President Tweets-a-lot. Which is pretty ironic, since Kasich’s only pitch for himself these days seems to be that he’s Not Trump.

For those reasons, Kasich’s name is mud to me, and if he never runs for any office again, it will be too soon. I’ve been “Tea Party” throughout (and kind of still am, despite the fact that the Tea Party movement kind of no longer exists); so I realize that I’m coming from a bit of a niche perspective. But I know that I’m not totally alone in these opinions, either.

Anyway, I enjoyed this piece you wrote, and I enjoy all your pieces at Hot Air. Keep up the good work, etc.


Yours truly,


Update (February 2nd, 2018):  I had no idea until after I posted this that someone else was also writing the case against Kasich today (“John Kasich’s Legacy”, at National Review Online).  (To add another layer of funny coincidences, the piece is by Jason Hart, the same author of the 2013 piece I linked above, where Kasich jokes on video that you’re going to hell if you disagree with him about politics.)


2 Responses to “Reports of John Kasich’s Popularity Greatly Exaggerated”

  1. […] Except that time when he stayed in the presidential primaries until just after Ted Cruz had dropped out—i.e., exactly long enough to ensure the candidate Kasich most claims to hate would become the nominee.  Kasich did literally the worst he could do. […]

  2. […] In fact, Taylor has pointed to Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid as a defining turning point in his governorship.  He was originally elected as a serious reformer, in the Tea Party wave of 2010, but ends his eight-year governorship as a disappointment. […]

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