Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday told a group of Clark County supporters the state has balanced its budget and added jobs during his first term, but more change is needed, including eventually eliminating Ohio’s income tax.
Kasich, the Republican governor, visited a Springfield manufacturing firm Tuesday where he accepted the endorsement from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The chamber also endorsed Kasich in 2010, which at the time broke a decades-long tradition in which the organization had remained neutral on the state race.
He argued his administration found creative ways to balance the state’s $8 billion budget deficit and helped businesses create thousands of jobs as the state recovered from the Great Recession. He also argued more changes are needed to keep Ohio competitive, including eliminating the state’s income tax. Kasich cited Texas and Florida as models for growth, and argued state legislators need to make significant changes to improve the state’s business climate.
“I think the worst thing you can do in politics is take the easy road to help you get re-elected,” Kasich said.
Kasich will be opposed in November by Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, a Cuyahoga County executive.
FitzGerald argued Wednesday’s endorsement is a sign Kasich has backed business at the expense of other constituents.
“The fact that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce is breaking tradition to endorse Gov. Kasich speaks volumes about his record of furthering the interests of the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of Ohio’s middle class families and small business owners,” FitzGerald said.
A recent poll showed Kasich has a double-digit lead over FitzGerald. Kasich leads his challenger 46 percent to 27 percent, according to the Buckeye Poll, released earlier this month by the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. However, other contested races such as those for auditor and secretary of state remain competitive, according to the poll.
The endorsement marks only the second time the Ohio Chamber has endorsed a candidate for governor. The Ohio business group also endorsed Kasich in 2010, breaking what had been at that time a 117-year tradition of remaining neutral in the race.
That decision caused American Electric Power to bolt the chamber at that time, not because of who was endorsed, but because company officials felt it was inappropriate for the chamber to endorse either candidate. Officials from AEP could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but previously said there were concerns an endorsement could cause division within the chamber.
However, AEP rejoined the chamber shortly after the election, said Andy Doehrel, president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Doehrel noted the chamber might endorse candidates in the future, but only if there is a clear difference the chamber feels is important. In 2010, he noted Ohio faced a roughly $8 billion budget deficit and businesses were concerned much of the cost might be passed on to them. The chamber decided to endorse Kasich a second time because the state has seen job growth and eliminated the deficit, he said.
“This one was easy,” Doehrel said. “The proof was in the pudding.”
The event was hosted in a crowded room at Yost Superior Co. Yost, a family-owned company that was initially founded in 1902. It has 53 employees, said Gary Dickerhoof, president of the business. Yost manufactures custom-made springs that are used in a wide variety of industries, ranging from the agriculture industry to pipe organs.
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