COLUMBUS - Ohio Gov. John Kasich still wants Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor to replace him, even as his No. 2 attempts to distance herself from the Republican governor in the state's more conservative areas.
Taylor recently told Republicans in Clermont County that Kasich was supporting her GOP competitor, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, according to several in the meeting. Taylor disputes that account. Still, her campaign spokesman said Tuesday that Taylor had not spoken to Kasich in more than a year, Kasich has not been an active participant in the Taylor campaign and DeWine's campaign staff was filled with Kasich veterans.
State records show the two met eight times between January 2017 and June 2017. Just one meeting was one-on-one. On Wednesday, Taylor told the Newark Advocate that she had not had a "substantive" conversation with Kasich in more than a year.
Kasich couldn't recall the exact date of their last conversation but said Thursday: "We communicate."
"Look, she's in a statewide campaign," Kasich said. "If you've ever been in a statewide campaign, it's pretty crazy. You're busy all the time."
Kasich, who has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, said he's aware that his popularity doesn't extend to the entire state.
"(T)here are a lot of loud voices out there that are on the far right. They don't all like me. That's OK. They didn't want me to expand Medicaid. That's fine."
But his endorsement still might mean something.
“I don’t think things have changed that much since I won 86 out of 88 counties,” said Kasich, referring to his 2014 re-election bid with Taylor against Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald.
Kasich said he would campaign for Taylor if she asked. He has offered some advice on running statewide, but she doesn't have to take it, the governor said.
In the end, though, Kasich said he's not sure how much endorsements mean. They didn't help him win a presidential election.
"I don't actually think that endorsements matter that much anyway unless it's somebody like LeBron (James) or Charles Barkley."
For the record, James endorsed Hillary Clinton who lost in 2016.