Perspective | 'Game On' in Governor's race

The script has flipped for Gov. John Kasich in the Ohio Governor's race.

Four years ago, he was the Republican challenger trailing in the polls and waiting to take aim at the final State of the State speech in Ted Strickland's term.

Now he's playing the opposite role, the favored incumbent hoping to stave off Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald.

If you are inclined to betting, place a wager that we will hear the following things in Governor Kasich's State of the State report card Monday night in Medina:

His leadership has put Ohio's budget in solid shape. His JobsOhio program has landed or retained significant numbers of jobs. Ohio's schools are getting better but have a long way to go.

Students need more help to focus on selecting careers job skill sets that interest them.

Ohio's schools and universities need to really connect with prospective employers and deliver better trained workers.

There should be more income tax cuts for Ohio families and businesses.

An aggressive plan to rebuild infrastructure will upgrade Ohio's transportation system and create thousands of jobs.

Everyone must get involved in the battle to curb the deadly heroin epidemic.

What won't we hear?

Ohio needs to start drilling for oil and gas in its public parks.

How a victory by the Governor in November could help position him to become the Republican nominee for President in 2016.

Ohio needs to join neighboring Indiana and Michigan in passing a right -to-work law.

The news Quinnipiac poll had good news for both the incumbent and challenger.

The upside for Kasich includes the following: He is perceived as a strong leader. A majority of Ohioans approve of his job performance.

The positive takeaway for FitzGerald and downside for the Governor reads like this: More Ohioans than not believe Kasich does not care about ordinary Ohioans.

The disastrous dumping of FitzGerald's first running mate may not have done that much damage . Seventy percent of those surveyed say they still don't know enough about him to form an opinion.

FitzGerald must define himself before the Republicans do.

Governor Kasich has not officially "declared" his candidacy. But his speech Monday night is tantamount to a campaign kickoff.

Republicans will portray FitzGerald as a job-jumper who is not ready for prime-time and falsely try to paint him as part of the culture of corruption in the Dimora/Russo-era of Cuyahoga County government.

Democrats will claim Kasich's policies have balanced the state's budget on the backs of cities and school systems forcing them to seek new money from taxpayers.

They will claim JobsOhio is really a "pay-to-play" system and claim its first boss, Mark Kvamme, used connections he made to make a bundle for himself.

And they will try to rekindle old emotions surrounding Kasich's backing SB 5.

FitzGerald's campaign bankroll is dwarfed by Kasich's war chest. He's at 5-to-1 disadvantage.

But he's also just five points down in the latest poll.

We have not heard many ideas or initiatives from FitzGerald on how he would get better results than Kasich.

So, are you better off, is your community better off and is the state better off since Governor Kasich's been in charge.?

Ultimately, those are the question voters must answer.

As of today, it's 254 days to Election Day.

Game on.


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