With the dust still settling from Tuesday's historic election results, the pundits are busy sizing up what to make of it all. The shift of power in the U.S. House, the national gains by Republicans, the impact of the Tea Party and the implications of all of the above are hot topics. And names like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ron Johnson are dominating the discourse.
Still, with all due respect to the field of this week's victors, the storyline of one winner stands above the rest: John Kasich is the governor-elect of Ohio.
But more telling than just his win is how he did it: by withstanding an Obama onslaught; turning back liberal fear attacks with a message of hope; and offering a leaner, more efficient alternative to big government run amuck.
In short, if Barack Obama’s spend and tax presidency for the past two years is a question, John Kasich emerged Tuesday night as the logical answer.
Ohio is paramount in presidential politics. Since 1964, voters in the Buckeye State have correctly picked the winning presidential candidate in 11 consecutive elections. Think keeping the Ohio governor’s office in Democratic hands was important to President Obama? You bet.
With his eyes on 2012, Obama has already made a dozen trips to Ohio to stump and raise millions of dollars for incumbent democratic Governor Ted Strickland.
While President Obama can’t leave fast enough for India to escape Tuesday’s results, the only place it seems he wanted to go for the past two years was Ohio.
Unfortunately for the president, there were two major problems with his strategy to pour time and resources into Ohio’s gubernatorial election:
First, Ohio was the wrong place to promote his tired policies of over-taxing, over-spending, and over-regulating,
And second, John Kasich was the wrong candidate to target with an “everything but the kitchen sink" strategy.
About that first point, Ohio is hurting. Since Ted Strickland became governor, Ohio has lost some 400,000 jobs. And despite the assertion from Democratic Party talking points, these aren’t jobs that were sent overseas by corporate bigwigs – they’re positions that found a new home in nearby states that offer a better environment for business.
Meanwhile, with 10% of Ohioans still out of work, it’s really no mystery why the voters rejected the Obama-Strickland message of more regulation, red tape and taxes as the path to economic prosperity. After four years of heading in the wrong direction, they know better.
The real story of this race, however, (and of the larger 2010 political landscape) is John Kasich.
In delivering a campaign and message that were pitch-perfect, the son of a mailman with working class roots provided a blueprint on going toe-to-toe with Obama and coming out on top.
Kasich took the president’s best shot – 12 of them to be exact – and never strayed from the notion that results trump rhetoric.
Of course, it helps that Kasich is Kasich. His record of results is impressive. In particular, as chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee through much of the '90s, he’s remembered fondly as the last man to balance our nation’s budget. At the time, it was a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since a man walked on the moon.
Today, thanks to the Obama administration’s spending spree, it’s an achievement that seems less likely than catching a cow jumping over the same planet.
There’s something else about Kasich. He has an undeniable energy and optimism that set him apart from the crowd. While Obama and Strickland spent their time on the campaign trail peddling fear and identifying “enemies,” Kasich consistently offered a better way through lower taxes, less government spending, fewer regulations, and more private sector jobs.
In one of his campaign ads, Kasich asserted that Ohio’s best days are still ahead. With a leader like John Kasich at the helm, that assertion seems less like a campaign slogan and more of a certainty.
As for President Obama, I think his political kryptonite has been discovered. His initials are J.K. and come January he'll be sworn in as Ohio’s next governor.
Van D. Hipp, Jr. is the former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party and has served as a member of the Presidential Electoral College. He is also the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and currently serves as Chairman of American Defense International, Inc. (ADI) a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm specializing in government affairs and business development.