John Kasich

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John Kasich
Governor John Kasich.jpg
69th Governor of Ohio
Assumed office
January 10, 2011
Lieutenant Mary Taylor
Preceded by Ted Strickland
Chairman of the House Budget Committee
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Martin Olav Sabo
Succeeded by Jim Nussle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 12th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Bob Shamansky
Succeeded by Pat Tiberi
Member of the Ohio Senate
from the 15th district
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 13, 1982
Preceded by Robert O'Shaughnessy
Succeeded by Richard Pfeiffer
Personal details
Born John Richard Kasich
(1952-05-13) May 13, 1952 (age 63)
McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Lee Griffith (m. 1975–80)
Karen Waldbillig (m. 1997)
Children Emma Kasich (daughter)
Reese Kasich (daughter)
Residence Genoa Township, Delaware County, Ohio
Alma mater Ohio State University
Religion Anglican
Website Campaign website

John Richard Kasich (/ˈksɨk/; born May 13, 1952)[1] is an American politician and the 69th and current Governor of Ohio, elected to the office in 2010 and reelected in the 2014 election.[2] On July 21, 2015, he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.[3][4]

Kasich served nine terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Ohio's 12th congressional district from 1983 to 2001.[5] His tenure in the House included 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee and six years as chairman of the House Budget Committee, and he was a key figure in passage of both welfare reform and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

He was a commentator on Fox News Channel, hosting Heartland with John Kasich from 2001 to 2007. He also worked as an investment banker, as managing director of Lehman Brothers' Columbus, Ohio office.[6][7]

In the 2010 Ohio gubernatorial election, Kasich defeated Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland, 49% to 47% in one of Ohio's closest gubernatorial elections.[8] He was re-elected in 2014, defeating Democrat Ed FitzGerald in a landslide, winning all but two counties, Athens and Monroe.

Early life and education[edit]

Kasich was born in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, an industrial town near Pittsburgh.[9] He is the son of Anne (Vukovich) and John Kasich, who worked as a mail carrier.[10][11] Kasich's father was of Czech descent, while his mother was of Croatian ancestry.[12] Both his father and mother were children of immigrants.[10] Kasich described himself as "a Croatian and a Czech".[13]

After attending public schools in McKees Rocks, Kasich enrolled at Ohio State University, where he joined the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.[14] As a freshman he wrote a letter of admiration to President Richard Nixon, requesting a meeting with the President. The letter was delivered to Nixon by the University's president Novice Fawcett and Kasich was granted a 20-minute meeting with Nixon in December 1970.[15]

Earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Ohio State University in 1974,[16] he went on to work as a researcher for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.[17] From 1975 to 1978, he served as an administrative assistant to then-state Senator Buz Lukens.[18]

Ohio Senate career[edit]

In 1978, Kasich was elected to the Ohio Senate, representing the 15th district, after defeating Democratic incumbent Robert O'Shaughnessy with 56% of the vote.[19] At age 26, Kasich was the youngest person ever elected to the Ohio Senate.[20] One of his first acts as a state senator was to refuse a pay raise.[21][22]

U.S. House of Representatives (1983–2001)[edit]

Kasich's official portrait in the 99th Congress, 1985.
Official congressional portrait of Kasich as Budget Committee chairman

In 1982, Kasich ran for Congress in Ohio's 12th congressional district, which included portions of Columbus as well as the cities of of Westerville, Reynoldsburg, Worthington, and Dublin. He won the Republican primary with 83% of the vote,[23] and defeated incumbent Democrat U.S. Congressman Bob Shamansky in the general election by a margin of 50%–47%.[24] Kasich was re-elected eight times after 1982,[25] winning at least 64% of the vote each time.[26]

During his congressional career, Kasich was considered a fiscal conservative, taking aim at programs supported by Republicans and Democrats. Kasich worked with Ralph Nader in seeking to reduce corporate tax loopholes.[27][28]

Kasich was a member of the House Armed Services Committee for 18 years.[29] He developed a "fairly hawkish" reputation on that committee,[30] although he "also zealously challenged" defense spending he considered wasteful.[29][31] Among the Pentagon projects that Kasich targeted were the B-2 bomber program (Kasich teamed up with Democratic Representative Ron Dellums to cut the program, and their efforts were partly successful)[27][32] and the A-12 bomber program (ultimately canceled by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in 1991).[31] Kasich participated extensively in the passage of the Goldwater–Nichols Act of 1986, which reorganized the U.S. Department of Defense.[33][31] Kasich also pushed through the bill creating the 1988 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which closed obsolete U.S. military bases, and successfully opposed a proposed $110 million expansion of the Pentagon after the end of the Cold War.[31] He also "proposed a national commission on arms control" and "urged tighter controls over substances that could be used for biological warfare."[31]

Kasich said he was "100 percent for" the first Persian Gulf War as well as the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, but said that he did not favor U.S. military participation in the Lebanese Civil War or in Bosnia.[34] In 1997, Kasich and fellow Republican Representative Floyd Spence introduced legislation (supported by some congressional Democrats) for the U.S. to pull out of a multilateral peacekeeping force in Bosnia.[35] In the House, Kasich supported the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, a Dellums-led initiative to impose economic sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa.[31]

In 1993, he became the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee. In that position, Kasich and other House Budget Committee Republicans proposed an alternative to President Bill Clinton's deficit reduction bill, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.[36] That proposal included funds to implement Republican proposals for health care, welfare, and crime control legislation and for a child tax credit.[36] The Penny-Kasich Plan, named after Kasich and fellow lead sponsor Tim Penny, was supported by Republicans and conservative Democrats.[37] It proposed $90 billion in spending cuts over five years, almost three times as much in cuts as the $37 billion in cuts backed by the Clinton administration and Democratic congressional leaders.[37] About one-third ($27 billion) of the cuts in the Penny-Kasich cuts would come from means-testing Medicare, specifically by reducing Medicare payments to seniors who earned $75,000 or more in adjusted gross income.[38][39] This angered the AARP, which lobbied against the legislation.[38] Another $26 billion of the Penny-Kasich plan's cuts would have come from the U.S. Department of Defense and foreign aid, which led Secretary of Defense Les Aspin to say that the plan would destroy military morale.[38] Another $27 billion in savings would have come from federal layoffs.[38] The proposal was narrowly defeated in the House in a 219-213 vote.[37][38]

As ranking member of the Budget Committee, Kasich proposed his own health care reform plan as a rival to the Clinton health care plan of 1993 championed by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, but more market-based.[40] As Time magazine wrote, "The Kasich plan would have covered all Americans by 2005, using a form of an individual mandate that would have required employees to purchase insurance through their employers. (The mandate was an idea initially supported by conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation.)"[40]

In 1994, Kasich was one of the Republican leaders to support a last-minute deal with President Bill Clinton to pass the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. After a series of meetings with Clinton's Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta, who was also a long-time friend of Kasich, the assault weapons ban was passed when 42 Republicans crossed party lines and voted with the Democrats to ban assault weapons.[41] Kasich's support of the assault-weapons ban angered the National Rifle Association, which gave Kasich an "F" rating in 1994 as a result.[42]

In 1995, when Republicans gained the majority in the United States Congress following the 1994 election, Kasich became chairman of the House Budget Committee. In 1996, Kasich introduced the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act in the House, a major welfare reform bill signed into law by President Clinton.[43]

During the 1996 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Bob Dole was reported to have considered Kasich as a vice presidential running mate but instead selected Jack Kemp, a former congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.[44]

In 1997, Kasich rose to national prominence after becoming "the chief architect of a deal that balanced the federal budget for the first time since 1969"—the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.[45]

In 1998, Kasich voted to impeach President Clinton on all four charges made against him.[46] In 1999, while the Senate prepared to vote on the charges, Kasich said: "I believe these are impeachable and removable offenses."[47]

2000 presidential election[edit]

Kasich did not seek re-election in 2000, but instead decided in February 1999 to form an exploratory committee to run for President.[48][49] After very poor fundraising, Kasich dropped out in July 1999, even before the Iowa Straw Poll, and endorsed Governor George W. Bush of Texas.[50][51]

Private sector career (2001–2009)[edit]

After leaving Congress, Kasich went to work for Fox News, hosting Heartland with John Kasich on the Fox News Channel and guest-hosting The O'Reilly Factor, filling in for Bill O'Reilly as needed.[52] Kasich also occasionally appeared as a guest on Hannity & Colmes.[53]

Kasich has also authored three books. Courage is Contagious, published in 1998, made the New York Times bestseller list. His second book, Stand for Something: The Battle for America's Soul was published in 2006. Kasich's most recent book, Every Other Monday, was also a New York Times bestseller.[54]

Business career[edit]

Kasich served on the board of directors for several corporations, including Invacare Corporation and the Chicago-based Norvax Inc. In 2001, Kasich joined Lehman Brothers' investment banking division as a managing director.[55] He remained at Lehman Brothers until it declared bankruptcy in 2008. Lehman Brothers paid Kasich a $182,692 salary and $432,200 bonus in 2008. Kasich stated that the bonus was for work performed in 2007.[56]

Political activities[edit]

Republicans tried to recruit Kasich for Governor of Ohio in 2006, but he declined to enter the race.[57]

Kasich "always had an independent streak", said his friend, Curt Steiner, former chief of staff to former Republican Ohio Governor and U.S. Senator George Voinovich. "He's a solid Republican, but he's always had his own views. [He's] a biological Democrat" [... his parents were Democrats]. "He came from an average background. He's in touch with people. He's not a Beltway thinker."[58]

In early 2007, Kasich was reportedly considering making a serious run for Governor of Ohio in 2010, and seeking the Republican nomination to unseat incumbent Ted Strickland.[59] In March 2008, Kasich said that Ohio's state income tax should be "phased out."[60]

In 2008, Kasich was named the Honorary Chairman of Recharge Ohio, an organization with the stated purpose of electing leaders who would "get our state back on track."[61] Kasich said that he hoped that through Recharge Ohio, he could "provide the framework necessary to allow Ohio to become a leader in economic and educational success."[62]

Ohio governor[edit]

2010 election[edit]

On May 1, 2009, Kasich filed papers to run for Governor of Ohio against incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland.[63] He formally announced his candidacy on June 1, 2009. On January 15, 2010, Kasich announced Ohio State Auditor Mary Taylor as his running mate.

During a speech before Ashtabula County Republicans in March 2009, Kasich talked about the need to "break the back of organized labor in the schools," according to the Ashtabula Star Beacon.[64] Ohio's teachers' unions supported Democrat Ted Strickland, and after Kasich's gubernatorial victory, he said, “I am waiting for the teachers’ unions to take out full-page ads in all the major newspapers, apologizing for what they had to say about me during this campaign."[65]

Elsewhere, he said he was willing to work with "unions that make things."[66]

On May 4, 2010, Kasich won the Republican nomination for governor, having run unopposed. On November 2, 2010, Kasich defeated incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland in a closely contested race to win the governorship.[67] He was sworn in at midnight on January 10, 2011, in a private ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. It was then followed by a ceremonial inauguration at the Ohio Theatre at noon on the same day.[68]

2014 re-election campaign[edit]

In November 2014, Kasich won re-election, defeating Democrat Ed FitzGerald, the county executive of Cuyahoga County, 64% to 33%. He won 86 of 88 counties.

Kasich, who was elected with Tea Party support in 2010, faced some backlash from some tea party activists. His decision to accept the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid caused some Tea Party activists to refuse to support his campaign.[69] Kasich supported longtime ally and campaign veteran Matt Borges over Portage County Tea Party chairman Tom Zawistowski for the position of Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. Zawistowski secured just three votes in his run for the chairmanship.[70] Tea Party groups announced they would support a primary challenger, or, if none emerged, the Libertarian nominee.[71]

Ultimately, Zawistowski failed to field anyone on the ballot and the Libertarian nominee, former Republican State Representative Charlie Earl, was removed from the ballot because technical faults in collection rendered many of his ballot-access signatures invalid.[72]

Tenure as governor and political positions[edit]


In June 2013, Kasich signed into law a state budget which included anti-abortion measures such as mandating any woman seeking an abortion to have a trans-abdominal ultrasound, and barring abortion providers from entering into emergency transfer agreements with public hospitals.[73] The bill stripped some $1.4 million in federal dollars from Planned Parenthood by placing the organization last on the priority list for family-planning funds.[73][74] The bill also provided funding to crisis pregnancy centers, which do not provide abortion referrals.[74] Under the budget, rape crisis centers could lose public funding if they counseled sexual assault victims about abortion.[74] Since 2011, Governor Kasich has signed 16 anti-abortion measures into law.[75]

In 2015, Kasich said in an interview that Planned Parenthood "ought to be de-funded" but said that Republicans in Congress should not force a government shutdown over the issue.[76]

Climate change, energy, and environment[edit]

In a speech in April 2012, Kasich acknowledged that climate change is real and is a problem.[77][78] In the same speech, Kasich said that the Environmental Protection Agency should not regulate carbon emissions and that instead states and private companies should be in charge of regulating coal-fired power plant emissions.[77] In 2015, Kasich stated that he was unsure what causes climate change.[79]

In 2014, Kasich signed into law a bill freezing Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) program for two years.[80][81] Ohio's RPS program was created by 2008 legislation and required the state to acquire 12.5 percent of its energy portfolio from renewable sources and to reduce energy consumption by 22 percent by 2025.[80] The legislation signed by Kasich to stop the program was supported by Republican legislative leaders, utility companies, and some industry groups, and opposed by environmentalists, some manufacturers, and the American Lung Association.[80][81]

In his 2015 budget plan, Kasich proposed raising the tax rate on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) activities.[82] Specifically, Kasich's plan called for imposing a 6.5 percent severance tax on crude oil and natural gas extracted via horizontal drilling and sold at the source (about $3.25 per $50 barrel of oil), and for an additional 4.5 percent tax per thousand cubic feet on natural gas and liquefied natural gas (about $0.16 per thousand cubic feet).[82] The proposal would not affect conventional drilling taxes.[82]

Kasich formerly supported fracking in Ohio state parks and forests, signing legislation in mid-2011 authorizing him to appoint a five-member commission to oversee the leasing of mineral rights on state land to the highest bidders.[83] In 2012, Kasich aides planned a campaign with a stated goal to "marginalize the effectiveness of communications by adversaries about the initiative" to bring fracking to state parks and forests, naming in an email the Ohio Sierra Club and state Representatives Robert F. Hagan and Nickie Antonio as adversaries of the plan.[83] Kasich never appointed the commission, and the promotional plan was never put into effect.[83] A memo and email relating to the 2012 promotional campaign were publicly released for the first time in February 2015, which according to the Columbus Dispatch attracted criticism from state environmental and liberal groups, as well as Democratic state legislators, who called for an investigation.[83] On the same day the governor reversed himself, with a spokesman saying, "At this point, the governor doesn't support fracking in state parks. We reserve the right to revisit that, but it’s not what he wants to do right now, and that's been his position for the past year and a half."[83]

In April 2015, Kasich signed a bill aimed at protecting Lake Erie's water quality.[84][85] The bill places restrictions on the spread of manure and other fertilizers that contribute to toxic algal blooms and requires large public water treatment plants to monitor phosphorus levels.[84] The bill had been unanimously approved by both chambers of the Ohio Legislature the previous month.[84]

Kasich is the supporter of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline project; along with other Republican governors, Kasich signed an open letter in support of federal approval for the project in February 2015.[86]

Policing and criminal justice[edit]

Policing standards[edit]

In December 2014, following the fatal police shootings of John Crawford III and Tamir Rice in Ohio, Kasich created the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board "to address what he described as frustration and distrust among some Ohioans toward their police departments, particularly among the black community."[87][88] The 23-member task force (with 18 members appointed by Kasich) was appointed in January 2015[89] and issued its 629-page final report and recommendations in April 2015.[90][91] The report recommended greater accountability and oversight for police agencies and officers, further community education and involvement in policing, and new use-of-force and recruitment, hiring, and training standards for police agencies.[90][91]

In April 2015, Kasich created the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, a twelve-member board tasked (in conjunction with the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services and the Ohio Department of Public Safety) with developing statewide standards for the recruiting, hiring and screening of police officers, and for the use of force (including deadly force) by police.[92][87] The advisory board, the first of its kind in Ohio, was also tasked by Kasich with developing "model policies and best practice recommendations to promote better interaction and communication between law enforcement departments and their home communities."[87][93] In August 2015, the board issued its recommendations, which placed "an emphasis on the preservation of human life and restrict officers to defending themselves or others from death or serious injury."[94]

In August 2015, Kasich said that he was open to the idea of requiring police officers to wear body cameras.[95]

Capital punishment[edit]

As of July 2015, Kasich had presided over the executions of twelve inmates and commuted the death sentences of five inmates.[96][97] In January 2015, Kasich announced that, due to pending litigation and other issues, he was delaying all seven executions scheduled through January 2016. At that time, the most recent execution had occurred in January 2014.[96][98]

Executive clemency[edit]

According to records obtained by the Columbus Dispatch through a public-records request, Kasich granted 66 of 1,521 requests for executive clemency, about 4.4 percent of the non-death-penalty cases he received and acted upon from 2011 to 2014.[97] This was the lowest clemency rate of any Ohio governor since at least the 1980s, when records began to be kept.[97]

Criminal justice reform issues[edit]

Kasich supports various criminal justice reform efforts; according to conservative Washington Post columnist George Will, Kasich "favors fewer mandatory minimum sentences and has instituted prison policies that prepare inmates for re-integration into communities."[99] In 2011, Kasich signed sentencing reform legislation which allowed judges to sentence defendants convicted of non-violent fourth- and fifth-degree felonies to "community-based halfway house facilities" instead of prison; expanded the earned credit system to allow inmates to reduce their sentences; and allowed felons who have already served 80 percent or more of their sentenced to be immediately released.[100]

In 2015, Kasich proposed a state budget including $61.7 million for addiction treatment services for prisoners.[101] In 2012, Kasich signed into law a bill, sponsored by Cleveland Democratic Senator Shirley Smith and Cincinnati Republican Senator Bill Seitz, easing the collateral consequences of criminal conviction.[102]

In September 2014, Kasich touted the Ohio's prison system's recidivism rate, which is one of the lowest in the nation.[103] U.S. Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, attributed a drop in Ohio's recidivism rate "to the bipartisan work of the state legislature, Governor Kasich, Ohio's reentry leaders and the success of programs made possible at the federal level by the Second Chance Act" (which Portman sponsored).[104]


Kasich expressed opposition to medical marijuana in 2012, saying "There's better ways to help people who are in pain."[105] In a 2015 interview with radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Kasich said he was "totally opposed" to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Ohio and equated marijuana and heroin, stating: "In my state and across this country, if I happened to be president, I would lead a significant campaign down at the grassroots level to stomp these drugs out of our country."[106][107] When asked whether, if elected president, he would federally enforce marijuana laws in states which have legalized marijuana, Kasich characterized it as a states' rights issue and said that "I'd have to think about it."[107]

In March 2014, in an effort to address the opioid epidemic, Kasich signed legislation (passed unanimously in both chambers of the state legislature) expanding the availability of naloxone, a lifesaving antidote to opioid overdoses; the measure allowed friends and family members of addicts to obtain access naloxone and for first responders to carry naloxone.[108] In July 2015, Kasich signed legislation further expanding the availability of naloxone, making it available without a prescription.[109]

Economic policy[edit]

State budgets[edit]

During Kasich's tenure, the state has eliminated a budget shortfall that his administration has estimated at $8 billion, but which the Cleveland Plain Dealer estimated at closer to $6 billion,[110] and increased the state's "rainy day fund" from effectively zero to more than $2 billion.[111]

Kasich signed a state budget in 2011 which eliminated the state's estate tax effective January 1, 2013.[112]

In 2013, Kasich signed into law a $62 billion two-year state budget.[73] The budget provided for a 10-percent state income tax cut phased in over three years, and an increase in the state sales tax from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent. It also included a 50% tax cut for small business owners on the first $250,000 of annual net income.[73] Kasich used his line-item veto power to reject a measure that would stop the Medicaid expansion (which Kasich had accepted from the federal government) to cover nearly 275,000 working poor Ohioans.[73]

In 2015, Kasich signed into law a $71 billion two-year state budget after using his line-item veto power to veto 44 items.[113] The overall 2015 budget provides a 6.3 percent state income-tax cut as a part one component of a $1.9 billion net tax reduction and lowers the top income-tax rate to slightly below 5 percent.[113] The budget also "spends $955 million more in basic state aid for K-12 schools than the last two-year period"; "boosts state funding for higher education to help offset a two-year tuition freeze at public universities"; expands the Medicaid health program; increases cigarette taxes by 35 cents a pack; and "prohibits independent health care and child care workers under contract with the state from unionizing."[113]

Senate Bill 5 and labor issues[edit]

On March 31, 2011, in his first year as governor, Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 5, a controversial labor law which restricted collective bargaining rights of public employees, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.[114][115] The legislation, championed by Kasich,[116] prohibited all public employees from striking and restricted their ability to negotiate health care and pension benefits.[114][115] The final version of the legislation signed by Kasich had passed the state Senate in a 17-16 vote (with six Senate Republicans joining all of the Senate Democrats in voting no) and the state House in a 53-44 vote, with two members abstaining.[117]

Democrats and labor unions opposed the legislation and placed a referendum on the November 2011 ballot to repeal SB 5.[114] SB 5 also "sparked numerous protests with thousands of union workers and other opponents descending on the Statehouse, mirroring similar demonstrations in Wisconsin and injecting Ohio into the national debate over Republican governors' attempts to curb public workers' collective bargaining rights."[118] Kasich and other supporters of SB 5 characterized the legislation as a necessary measure "to help public employers control labor costs" and reduce tax burdens to make Ohio more competitive with other states, while labor unions and other opponents characterized the bill as "a union-busting attack on the middle class."[118]

Ohio voters rejected Senate Bill 5 in a 61 percent to 39 percent vote, which was viewed as a rebuke to Kasich.[114][119][115] On election night, Kasich said in a speech at the Ohio Statehouse that "It's clear the people have spoken. I heard their voices. I understand their decision. And frankly, I respect what the people have to say in an effort like this."[114][119] Following this defeat, Kasich dropped efforts for a broad-based collective bargaining restrictions, although in 2012 he supported a bill including "provisions reminiscent of Senate Bill 5" but applying only to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.[114]

In May 2015, Kasich rescinded executive orders issued by his predecessor Ted Strickland in 2007 and 2008 that provided the right to home health care contractors and in-home child care contractors to collectively bargain with the state.[120]

Balanced budget amendment[edit]

Kasich has campaigned for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[121] Kasich created a 501(c)(4) group, Balanced Budget Forever, to promote the cause.[122]


Kasich canceled the school-funding formula put into place by his Democratic predecessor, Governor Ted Strickland,[123] and proposed new formulas which would increase funding to poor districts and charter schools.[77]

During Kasich's tenure as governor, he pushed to expand charter schools, increase the number of school vouchers that use public money to pay for tuition at private schools, implement a "merit pay" scheme for teachers, and evaluate teachers by student standardized test scores in math and reading.[124] During Kasich's tenure, funding for traditional public schools declined by about $500 million, while funding for charter schools has increased at least 27 percent.[124] Kasich supports the Common Core State Standards and has criticized Republicans who turned against it.[124]

As calculated by the Howard Fleeter/Education Tax Policy Institute, total school funding under Kasich (including both charter and district schools) has ranged from a low of $7.1 billion in fiscal year 2013 to $7.8 billion in fiscal year 2015, which was higher than its previous peak under Kasich's predecessor, Ted Strickland.[125] Kasich has proposed total school funding of $8.0 billion in fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2017.[125] Analysts disagree, however, "on whether Kasich's education budgets give increases beyond inflation."[125] In the 2015 state budget, Kasich used his line-item veto power "to cut more than $84 million of funding from public schools."[77]

According to a September 2014 story in the Columbus Dispatch, Kasich favors allowing public school districts "to teach alternatives to evolution—such as intelligent design—if local school officials want to, under the philosophy of 'local control.'"[126]

Foreign and defense policy[edit]

In November 2002, Kasich urged the invasion of Iraq, telling a crowd of students at Ohio State University: "We should go to war with Iraq. It's not likely that (Saddam) Hussein will give up his weapons. If he did he would be disgraced in the Arab world."[127]

In an August 2015, in an interview, Kasich said: "I would never have committed ourselves to Iraq."[127] A Kasich spokesman subsequently said that "Kasich was not revising history" but was instead saying that the Iraq War was a mistake given the facts available now.[127]

Kasich has said that the U.S. "should've left a base in Iraq" instead of withdrawing troops in 2011.[127][34]

In 2015, Kasich said that airstrikes were insufficient to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and he would send U.S. ground troops to fight ISIL.[128][129]

Kasich opposed the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran,[34] and in September 2015 was one of fourteen Republican governors who sent a letter to President Obama stating "that we intend to ensure that the various state-level sanctions [against Iran] that are now in effect remain in effect," despite a landmark international nuclear agreement with Iran.[130]

Kasich has said that the U.S.'s drone program should be operated by the Department of Defense, and not by the CIA.[34]

Kasich has said that he wants to lift budget sequestration for military spending, and "spend more if necessary."[131]

LGBT rights[edit]

While in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kasich voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriage.[132] During this period, Kasich supported a ban on same-sex marriage in Ohio and stated that he did not approve of the "gay lifestyle."[132]

As governor of Ohio, Kasich signed an executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for state employees; this was more narrow than the previous executive order signed by his predecessor because it omitted protections for gender identity.[133]

In June 2015, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage under the Fourteenth Amendment, Kasich said that he was "obviously disappointed"[134][135] and that he believes in "traditional marriage."[136] Kasich said that the ruling was "the law of the land and we'll abide by it" and that it was "time to move on" to other issues.[136] Kasich indicated that he did not support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overturn the decision.[136]

In September 2015, Kasich commented on the highly publicized case of Kim Davis (the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who refused to comply with a federal court order directing her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples), saying: "Now, I respect the fact that this lady doesn't agree but she's also a government employee, she's not running a church, I wouldn't force this on a church. But in terms of her responsibility I think she has to comply. I don't think —I don't like the fact that she's sitting in a jail, that's absurd as well. But I think she should follow the law."[137]

Health care[edit]

Kasich opted to accept Medicaid expansion funding provided by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare") in Ohio.[138][139][140] This decision angered many Statehouse Republicans, who wanted Kasich to reject the expansion.[139][141]

Total spending on Medicaid by the state was almost $2 billion (or 7.6 percent) below estimates for the fiscal year ending in June 2015, according to a report by the administration. The lower than expected costs were attributed to expanded managed care, shorter nursing home stays and increased in-home care for seniors, capitated reimbursement policies, increased automation to determine eligibility for the program and pay care providers, and an improving economy in the state which allowed some participants to move out of the program.[142]

In an October 2014 interview, Kasich said that repeal of the ACA was "not gonna happen" and stated that "The opposition to it was really either political or ideological. I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people's lives."[139] Kasich later said that he was referring solely to the law's Medicaid expansion, and that "my position is that we need to repeal and replace" the rest of the law.[139][143]

In 2015, Kasich expressed support for many provisions of the ACA (ensuring coverage for people with preexisting conditions, the use of insurance exchanges, and Medicaid expansion), but opposed mandates.[144]


In 2010, while running for governor, Kasich expressed support for amending the U.S. Constitution to abolish the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of jus soli (birthright) citizenship for people born in the United States.[145][146] Kasich also told the Columbus Dispatch at the time that "One thing that I don't want to reward is illegal immigration."[145]

In 2014, Kasich acknowledged that his stance on immigration has "evolved" because "maybe [I'm] a little smarter now," stating: "I don't want to see anybody in pain. So I guess when I look at this now, I look at it differently than I did in '10. ... When I look at a group of people who might be hiding, who may be afraid, who may be scared, who have children, I don't want to be in a position of where I make it worse for them."[145] That year, Kasich expressed openness to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, saying at a Republican Governors Association (RGA) meeting in Florida, "I don't like the idea of citizenship when people jump the line, [but] we may have to do it."[146] Kasich was the only governor at the RGA conference "to express openly a willingness to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants."[145]

In August 2015, while running for president, Kasich called for a path to legal status (but not necessarily citizenship) for undocumented immigrants and for a guest worker program.[146][147] Kasich also appeared to disavow his earlier stance against birthright citizenship, stating "I don't think we need to go there"; called for completion of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border; and noted that undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as young children may obtain driver's licenses in Ohio.[146][147]

Lieutenant governor[edit]

In 2014, Kasich defended his lieutenant governor, Mary Taylor, after Taylor's chief of staff and that chief of staff's administrative assistant resigned following a timesheet probe.[148][149] Kasich said of Taylor's handling of the matter: "Mary did the right thing and I support her."[149]

Racial diversity in Cabinet[edit]

Upon taking office in 2011, Kasich received criticism for appointing an initial all-white cabinet of 22 members.[150] Responding to criticism for not appointing any black, Hispanic, or Asian Cabinet members, Kasich said: "I don't look at things from the standpoint of any of these sort of metrics that people tend to focus on, race or age, or any of those things. It's not the way I look at things... I want the best possible team I can get."[150] Shortly afterward, on February 2, 2011, Kasich made his first minority appointment to the Cabinet, naming Michael Colbert, a black man, to lead the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.[151]


Throughout his first gubernatorial campaign, Kasich opposed the Ohio Hub high-speed passenger rail project (a proposed 258-mile Cleveland-to-Cincinnati train) and promised to cancel it.[152]

As governor-elect, Kasich lobbied the federal government to use $400 million in federal dollars allocated for high-speed rail for freight rail projects instead.[152][153] In a November 2010 letter to Kashich, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote that the federal funding was specifically allocated by the 2009 economic stimulus act for high-speed rail, and could not be used for other purposes.[153] In a December 2010 meeting with President Barack Obama, Kasich again unsuccessfully lobbied to use the grant money for freight rail rather than high-speed rail.[154]

In December 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Ohio would lose the $385 million in grant funds allocated for high-speed passenger rail, since Kasich had informed them that he had no intention of ever building high-speed rail projects.[155] (Almost $15 million had already been spent for preliminary engineering.)[152] The $385 million was instead diverted to other states, such as California, New York, and Florida, which planned high-speed rail using the grant money for its congressionally intended purpose.[155][152] Outgoing Governor Ted Strickland, who championed the project, expressed disappointment, saying that the loss of funding for the project was "one of the saddest days during my four years as governor" and that "I can't understand the logic of giving up these vital, job-creating resources to California and Florida at a time when so many Ohioans need jobs."[152][155]

Kasich is an opponent of the Cincinnati Streetcar project.[156][157]

In April 2015, Kasich signed a two-year transportation budget bill which allocated $7.06 billion for highway construction and maintenance, $600 million to local governments for road and bridge projects, and an additional million over the last budget for public transportation.[158]

Voting rights[edit]

In February 2014, Kasich signed into law a bill which cut six days from Ohio's early voting period, including the "golden week" (a period at the beginning of early voting when voters could both register to vote and cast an in-person absentee ballot).[159][160] The measures were hotly contested in the state legislature,[159] passing on a party-line vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.[161] This measure prompted two federal lawsuits.[162] One, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio on behalf of the NAACP and League of Women Voters of Ohio, resulted in a settlement in April 2015, in which the state agreed to provide evening and Sunday hours for early voting in elections in Ohio through 2018.[163] The second, still-pending lawsuit was brought in May 2015 by Marc Elias, lead campaign lawyer for Hillary for America; that suit alleges that the Ohio measures disproportionately burden black, Latino and young voters.[162][164] In July 2015, Kasich said that it was "pure demagoguery" for Hillary Clinton to "say that there are Republicans who are deliberately trying to keep people from voting."[165]

In April 2015, Kasich used his line-item veto power to veto a provision added to a highway-budget bill by Republicans in the state legislature that would have required college students who register to vote in Ohio to obtain a state driver's license and vehicle registration, imposing an estimated $75 in motor vehicle costs on out-of-state college students who wanted to vote in the state.[166][167][168] The veto was celebrated by voting rights advocates, Ohio Democrats, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board, which viewed the proposal as effectively a "poll tax" motivated by a partisan desire to limit college-town voting.[166][167][168]

2016 presidential campaign[edit]

In April 2015, he had announced the formation of his "New Day For America" group. Formerly a 527 group, it filed as a super PAC in July 2015.[169] Between April 20 and June 30, 2015, the super PAC raised over $11.1 million from 165 "reportable contributions," including 34 contributions of $100,000 or more.[169] Major contributors to the PAC include Floyd Kvamme, who donated $100,000, Philip Geier Jr., who donated $500,000, and Jim Dicke, chairman emeritus of Crown Equipment Corporation, who donated $250,000.[169]

In May 2015, sources close to him had said he was "virtually certain" to run for the Republican nomination for President,[170] and on July 21, 2015, Kasich announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination during a speech at the Ohio Union, the student union of his alma mater, the Ohio State University.[3][171][172]

Personal life[edit]

Kasich was raised a Catholic, but considers denominations irrelevant, and stated that "there's always going to be a part of me that considers myself a Catholic." He drifted away from his religion as an adult, but came to embrace an Anglican faith after both his parents were killed in a car crash by a drunk driver.[173][174][175] Kasich has said he "doesn't find God in church" but does belong to the St. Augustine church in Westerville, Ohio, which is part of the Anglican Church in North America, a conservative church that broke off from the Episcopal Church.[175]

Kasich was married to Mary Lee Griffith from 1975 to 1980; they had no children.[176] Griffith has campaigned for Kasich post-divorce.[176]

Kasich married his second wife, Karen Waldbillig, a former public relations executive, in March 1997.[176] They have twin daughters, Emma and Reese.[176]

Electoral history[edit]

Election results[177][178]
Year Office Election Candidate Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1982 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 88,335 50% Bob Shamansky Democratic 82,753 47% Russell A. Lewis Libertarian 3,939 2%
1984 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 148,899 70% Richard S. Sloan Democratic 65,215 30%
1986 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 117,905 73% Timothy C. Jochim Democratic 42,727 27%
1988 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 204,892 80% Mark P. Brown Democratic 50,782 20%
1990 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 130,495 72% Mike Gelpi Democratic 50,784 28%
1992 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 170,297 71% Bob Fitrakis Democratic 68,761 29%
1994 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 114,608 67% Cynthia L. Ruccia Democratic 57,294 33% N/A Write-in 443 0%
1996 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 151,667 64% Cynthia L. Ruccia Democratic 78,762 33% Barbara Ann Edelman Natural Law 7,005 3%
1998 U.S. House of Representatives General John Kasich Republican 124,197 67% Edward S. Brown Democratic 60,694 33%
2010 Governor of Ohio General John Kasich Republican 1,889,186 49% Ted Strickland Democratic 1,812,059 47% Ken Matesz Libertarian 92,116 2% Dennis Spisak Green 58,475 2%
2014 Governor of Ohio General John Kasich Republican 1,944,848 64% Ed FitzGerald Democratic 1,009,359 33% Anita Rios Green 101,706 3%

See also[edit]


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  • Kasich, John (1999). Courage Is Contagious: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things to Change the Face of America. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780385491488. 
  • Kasich, John (2010). Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith, and Friendship. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439172186. 
  • Rechcigl, Miloslav Jr. (2013). Czech American Timeline: Chronology of Milestones in the History of Czechs in America. Bloomington, Indiana: Author House. ISBN 9781481757065. 
  • Weisskopf, Michael; Maraniss, David (2008). Tell Newt to Shut Up: Prize-Winning Washington Post Journalists Reveal H. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439128886. 

External links[edit]

U.S. Representative (1983–2001)