Just when first-term incumbent Republican Governor John R. Kasich thought his reelection this year would be a cake walk to and through Election Day this November, news from the latest Ohio Poll, by Public Policy Polling, shows the all-but certain victory for the Buckeye State’s go-go, CEO-style governor is anything but a foregone conclusion.
Public Policy Polling, surely one of the most accurate and reliable polling outfits in the nation, released the latest poll of Ohio statewide races Tuesday, showing competitive races across the board. Party ticket toppers Gov. Kasich and his little known but greatly outraised Democratic challenger, Ed FitzGerald, are far closer to each other than the last two robust polls from Quinnipiac University, which shows Gov. Kasich, who has yet to lose an election in which his name is on the ballot, enjoys a lead of just six points instead of the dozen to 15-point lead Quinnipiac observes for this race.
In another poll released Tuesday, this one by AARP which looked at the gubernatorial race in Ohio and other states, Kasich holds a 15-point lead [50-35%] among likely Ohio voters at least 50-years old versus FitzGerald, top county executive for Cuyahoga County. AARP’s polling, performed by Hart Research Associates, also shows 15 percent of 50+ voters are undecided.
What should worry the Kasich Administration is that even though it has the power of incumbency, a candidate who wants to run for president in 2016 and a donor base that includes some of the wealthiest individuals in the nation, the former 18-year congressman turned Fox TV political talk show host and Lehman Brothers banker, has been able to shake was has been a campaign plagued by missed opportunities, fumbled operations, poor name recognition and weak fundraising.
Meanwhile, in downticket races, Democrat Connie Pillich holds a three-point lead over her GOP incumbent Josh Mandel, at 47-44 percent. In the race for Secretary of State, Nina Turner is within three points of Republican Jon Husted, at 43-46 percent. In the race for Ohio Auditor, 42 percent of respondents said they would vote for John Patrick Carney, compared to 44 percent who would support the GOP incumbent, David Yost. The margin of error in this data is 3.5 percent.
Looking for a chance to push back at Republicans, who have enjoyed the last couple weeks as they’ve watched Ohio media fetch and run with the stick about FitzGerald’s early morning incident with a woman not his wife and the concomitant story of him driving for years with a learner’s permit.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who took on Ohio media yesterday at a press conference over their refusal to focus on issues instead of dwelling on FitzGerald’s salacious scene, said, “This polling reinforces what we already know: Voters want to talk about the serious issues affecting Ohioans, like our weak economy, our struggling public schools, cleaning up corruption in government, or the threat to Ohio’s natural resources, and that is what our Democratic candidates are focused on every day. They have a vision for a fair Ohio that works for everyone, and that is why voters will choose them in this election.”
Former Gov. Ted Strickland, who lost to citizen Kasich in 2010 by just two percentage points, said FitzGerald’s situation isn’t helpful. “I’m not trying to minimize the challenge,” he told one Ohio reporter. He added, “It is a big state with a lot of media markets. But I don’t think this race is over.” That notion that the race for governor, now fewer than three months way, is over also didn’t sit well with another Democrat, former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Leland, who appears well positioned to reenter the legislature by winning in November. Leland, speaking to reporters, said, “Making a determination of what’s going to happen in November here in August is foolish.”
Neither the Kasich Administration nor his campaign have said anything about the parking lot incident, now dubbed ‘Licensegate.’ The news media, especially the Columbus and Dispatch and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which based on their pro-Kasich coverage versus negative FitzGerald coverage have apparently teamed up to monkey wrench FitzGerald in his first statewide race.
Pulling in his wings and removing the sponsorship decals from his campaign car, published reports indicate Gov. Kasich has gone stealth on campaigning. Reporters, who he would rather do without but who he enjoys berating or ignoring when he has a chance, are apparently no longer allowed to ask him questions. Published reports say that at a recent campaign stop, Gov. Kasich continued to not mention FitzGerald’s name or even acknowledge him as his Democratic challenger, and the supply-side governor who earned his conservative wings during the Reagan years has apparently decided to shutout the press by not taking questions from reporters.