As I noted earlier, I was able to attend the press conference yesterday after the announcement - via Twitter - that Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich had selected State Auditor Mary Taylor to be his running mate. Do some technical difficulties with YouTube this post was delayed until this morning (and let me apologize for the video quality in advance - I need a tripod).
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine gave a solid introduction noting how desperate Ohio is for new leadership after years of drift and disaster under Ted Strickland. Then both Kasich and Taylor spoke.
I will let you judge speeches by the video footage, but my gut reaction? This is great news. Kasich-Taylor seems like a great fit personally and thematically. They are focused like a laser on how what has been done in Ohio in the past (under both Ds and Rs) hasn't worked and bold change and new leadership is needed. They both talked at length about fundamentally changing the way government operates.
He is a budget hawk and fiscal conservative and she is a tax cutter and government watchdog. They are personable and comfortable in front of a camera but don't come off as slick or overly-polished. They both have blue collar backgrounds and have stepped on toes in their own party when they felt principles were at stake. It will make a great top of the ticket in Ohio.
More, including video, below.
One great point worth noting off the top is that Kasich refuses to back down to a media - and establishment politicos - that wants this to be about "responsible budgeting" (ie raise taxes and just slow the rate of spending) and "let's not get crazy" proposals. He hasn't abandoned his talk of phasing out the income tax and killing the death (estate) tax even in the face of constant questions and criticism - even from some in his own party.
And he didn't back down today. He noted that something like this takes time, and once elected they will have to deal with reality and make plans accordingly, but he reiterated that Ohio has to fundamentally reorient its government so that it can compete with other low tax and less regulated states and grow its economy.
Businesses simply don't see Ohio as a destination for exciting and growing companies thanks to its overall structure, tax and regulatory climate. This results in jobs and people leaving the state while things stagnate and problems are compounded.
The other issue that has caused a lot of buzz is the fact that Taylor is the only GOP statewide officeholder and their are worries about holding the auditor seat heading in to a redistricting year where every apportionment board seat is critical.
It seemed clear from today that the issue for Kasich was first putting together the best ticket he could - with someone qualified and ready from day one to work on his agenda - not about other political considerations.
In a political climate that is strong for the GOP right now, and likely to get better, there isn't a lot of worry about the auditor's race at this point. This is about building the strongest ticket possible starting at the top.
And the latest polls look good for Kasich:
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state shows Kasich with a seven-point lead, 47% to 40%. Four percent (4%) like some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.
Kasich led Strickland 48% to 39% in early December.
Male voters prefer Kasich by 19 points over Strickland. Women favor the incumbent by four. Both candidates carry nearly 80% of the voters in their own party, but voters not affiliated with either party like Kasich 53% to 23%.
I think Kasich-Taylor is a great ticket and if Ted Strickland isn't worried already he should be. Given the economic realities - and the political repercussions that usually brings - and the talented and experienced ticket of Kasich-Taylor he is in deep trouble. Ohio is ready for real leadership not just a caretaker governor who talks tough but does little.
Here is video part one where Kevin DeWine introduces Kasich and Kasich introduces Taylor. Let me know what you think:
And here is Mary Taylor: