With Election Day in Ohio just over 15 weeks away, Gov. John R. Kasich, running for a second term this year, has already had three TV spots designed to convince voters they should rehire him to a second and final four-year term.
Gov. Kasich, 62-years old, has been a Republican since before he won his first election for state senator in 1978. But voters wouldn’t know that from watching his positive TV spots so far. Not one identifies him as a member of the GOP who has embraced virtually every position rank and file Republicans support.
Elected in 2010, the year the rise of the Tea Party pushed him over the finish line by a narrow margin of two percent over an incumbent Democratic governor who was hit by the Great Recession and the resulting loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, Gov. Kasich has enjoyed out distancing his Democratic challenger in campaign cash, name recognition and the kind of sympathetic news coverage any candidate could hope to have. The combination of incumbency, plenty of cash to spend on his rehire campaign and a long history as a performance politician contributed to a large lead, as much as 15 points, the Pennsylvania born Kasich had over Ed FitzGerald in the last Quinnipiac Ohio Poll in early May.
But for all his advantages, Gov. Kasich, like Mitt Romney in 2012, can’t seem to break out of the mid 40s of job approval ratings. Like a team who wants to thrash its opponent but just can’t seem to break away, Gov Kasich is dogged by FitzGerald, 46 years old, a former FBI special agent, small town mayor and now Cuyahoga County Executive, who many Buckeye just don’t know much about him.
A new poll released Monday shows the race a dead-heat. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Reporting, one of the nation’s most accurate political polling outfits, has Gov. Kasich one point in front of FitzGerald 45-44 percent. Within the margin of error, this means it’s a jump ball for who will be Ohio’s next chief executive next year. The approximately $2 million spent to promote Mr. Kasich appears to have not put this election away for a governor who has been able to see his agenda realized with friendly help from an all-Republican legislature.
The positive poll for FitzGerald shows Gov. Kasich has a four point lead with men (46%-42%) but trails with women (44%-45). Kasich has respectable leads with white voters (50%-38%), and voters over age 65 (60%-32%). FitzGerald leads with African-Americans (77%-14%), and younger voters (55%-17%).
Team FitzGerald, who sent reporters news of his first introductory TV spot early Tuesday, has reason to believe the lopsided spending by Team Kasich and allies so far have done little to camouflage his anti-middle class record. “With our next major fundraising deadline bearing down on us (July 31st), this ad will tell voters what our campaign and this election are really about,” FitzGerald said in prepared remarks today.
“Ohio was meant for all of us,” FitzGerald says in a typical political ad that shows him in a factory setting and interacting with adults and children. FitzGerald, making his first attempt at a statewide race, could still be a long shot, depending on voter turnaround in a presidential battleground state in which midterm voter fall-off can be substantial, as the 2010 election year showed. Four years ago, then citizen John Kasich could only win 49 percent of a low 49 percent voter turnout.
Hammering on campaign themes Team FitzGerald hopes resonates with voters this year, he says “the promise of Ohio is meant for all of us,” not just “the wealthy or well connected. It’s time Ohio started working for working people … Let’s start supporting the working class for a change.”