What can you say about this year’s governor’s race? Democrat Ed FitzGerald seemed somewhat promising at first. He has political experience as Cuyahoga County Executive, he backs policies that would help working-class Ohioans. Unfortunately, at this point, Fitzgerald’s campaign is nearly in shambles after reports uncovered that he spent 10 years without a driver’s license and was once caught parked in an empty lot at 4:30 a.m. with a woman who wasn’t his wife. At this point, Fitzgerald’s strongest attribute is the fact that he’s not John Kasich. Which was a pretty good starting point, actually.
Despite a record of consistently opposing same-sex marriage in the state and supporting restrictive new laws that have greatly reduced women’s access to abortions and other reproductive health services, Kasich has fashioned himself as the kinder, cuddlier conservative, one willing to get off the free-market high horse once in a while to accept federal dollars for Medicaid.
Kasich is also a shill for broken supply-side ideas that haven’t worked. The state’s tax structure has grown more regressive under his watch, as sales taxes rise and taxes on the wealthy fall. An analysis of Kasich’s 2013 budget by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the plan saves Ohio’s top earners more than $6,000 a year while actually increasing the tax bill for Ohio’s lowest earners by $12. Just after signing that budget, he told reporters he’d like to get tax rates even lower for Ohio’s highest earners.
While Ohio’s unemployment rate has dropped significantly from its recession-era high, the decline started before Kasich took office and is echoed in many states across the country. Under Kasich’s watch, the state remains ranked 39th in the nation for job creation this year, according to a study by Arizona State University. Meanwhile, the state’s spending has increased 13 percent. So much for job growth and smaller government.
And let’s not forget Kasich’s past moves. In his first year in office, Kasich backed a bill to roll back Ohio public employees’ bargaining rights. The proposal was even harsher than a similar measure championed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that sparked widescale protests there. Now Walker is fighting a very tough battle for reelection. If Ohio Democrats had a stronger candidate, Kasich would be, too.