By CARL E. FEATHER - Staff Writer - firstname.lastname@example.org
ASHTABULA — Three Republicans with their eyes on state offices in 2010 were in Ashtabula County Saturday morning with a message of recharging the state and county.
The venue was the Ashtabula County Party Lincoln Day Breakfast. County party chairman Richard Hornstein said the event is usually held as a dinner, but was switched to a breakfast this year. It drew a crowd of 138, including two newly-converted Republicans.
The wife of Joe Rose, Ashtabula City fourth-ward councilman, announced that the former Democrat had switched parties. Rose could not be reached for comment following the breakfast.
The party, still smarting from defeat in the 2006 and 2008 elections, needs the additional bodies. State Senator Jon Husted, who has his eyes on the secretary of state job, said the party must win two of the top three positions in state government in 2010. He was joined by Dave Yost, Delaware County prosecuting attorney, who has his eyes on the attorney general’s position. And the breakfast’s keynote speaker, John Kasich, is toying with the idea of running for governor.
Kasich, elected to the Ohio State Senate at the age of 26, was elected as a U.S. representative at the age of 30. He represented Ohio’s 12th district for 18 years before retiring to the business community. He is substitute host for “The O’Reilly Factor” and a contributor to other Fox News shows. Kasich is the author of “Stand for Something: The Battle for America’s Soul” and “Courage is Contagious.”
Throughout his message to the local party, Kasich sounded warnings about runaway deficit spending in Washington and Columbus, the effort to end school vouchers in Ohio and President Barack Obama’s plan to increase the tax burden on wealthy Americans.
He called upon local Republicans to return to the party’s core values of honesty, integrity and personal responsibility. Kasich called it “unconscionable” that the administration wants “to take from the hard-working people who play by the rules” and give to those who are living beyond their means.
He also came down hard on the idea that the government “should take people who are successful and pound them into the ground, that they are bad, and we should take their money and give it to somebody else.”
Turning his focus to Ohio, Kasich said the state has failed as a job creator — it ranks 50th in the nation for new start ups and 47th for entrepreneurship. Families are moving out and young people exiting because of a lack of opportunities. Increasingly, those who stay in the state are falling into poverty and requiring government aid, such as food stamps, to survive.
“When the number of people who depend upon the government outweigh the number of people who support it, sounds nearly impossible, doesn’t it?” he said.
Kasich briefly focused specifically on Ashtabula County and challenged existing leadership that can’t build upon the county’s natural resources to attract good paying jobs to step down. He said Republicans need to take back the county.
As for solutions to the challenges facing Ohio, Kasich laid out four ideas:
1. Eliminate the state’s death tax. Kasich said the tax punishes the rich and is driving them and their capital to other states.
“If we can kill the death tax, maybe we can keep those people in Ashtabula County, and this whole region,” he said. “If we keep them here, they are likely to create more jobs, they are likely to be creative, more innovative. All we care about is jobs, isn’t it? We don’t want to drive those people out.”
2. Trim the rate of government growth. He said all the institutions of the state government need “major surgery” and the state must be put on a path toward eliminating the income tax.
3. Expand the school voucher program and break the grip unions hold on education. "Now my concern with the teachers union is that I am convinced they are a lot more concerned with their own situation rather than the situation of
our children," Kasich said.
“We need more school choice, we need to break the back of organized labor in the schools, and we need to turn our schools into institutions that excite our kids and teach them, and the best way to get it done is to give mothers and fathers the power to take their kids out of bad places and put them in good,” Kasich said to a round of applause.
4. Create a positive business climate for jobs. “You got to get organized up here, you got to get a push to turn this area around. You got the assets, now it’s time to leverage the assets and begin getting people into this place who are going to provide the high-paying jobs, the innovative jobs, the knowledge-based jobs.
“I think there is no reason we can’t have it here,” Kasich said, referring to Ashtabula County. “I think it’s a great place, with great values, but it isn’t going to get done through cheap slogans and fancy mottos.”
Kasich said if he makes the decision to go forward with his gubernatorial ambitions, he would not ignore Ashtabula County.
“You could be a leader for our state, you could be part of the comeback we are all hungry for,” he said.
online: hustedforohio.com; daveyost.com; rechargeohio.com