Will minorities ever turn to a republican for President? Presidential elections require a special kind of candidate. The new Presidential contender must be able to appeal to swing voters, conservative and liberal voters and the most democratic; the minority or lower income voter.
There is a perception that voting enthusiasm is dominated by upper middle class and mostly white Americans, they’re wrong. In the last Presidential election those who made less than $50,000 made up of 67% of those voting. The number is up from the 59% from 2008. You may say that it is because the first African American was running and that he was more liberal than the Conservative Mitt Romney. This too is a misguided perception. According to nonprofitvote.org, voter turnout among $50,000 income and lower voters have been rising above 50% since 2000. The prediction is that voter turnout will steadily increase with the help of initiatives in voter registration and efforts to provide transportation to the polls. Typically, the only candidates that provide hope to these types of voters are the democrats with their support of social programs, advocating for workers and improvements in minimum wages and health care. Watching Conservative pundits over the past few years, I wondered whether they were aware or simply ignoring the statistics; that was until I started following Governor Kasich of Ohio.
Kasich unseated a well-liked Democrat, Governor Ted Strickland. Unfortunately, Strickland did not keep many of his promises and by the time he exited the Governor’s office in 2011 over half the people disapproved of his role as Governor. Struggling Ohioans had learned again there was nothing new for a politician breaking their promises.
When John Kasich came into the governor’s office he made a few promises of his own. So far, the Governor has been the only republican paying attention. What is amazingly different about Governor Kasich is he has managed to keep some of the promises they care for. First, he promised to phase out personal income taxes. He has reduced personal income taxes by 10%, and cut taxes for small business, and he doubled earned income tax credit to help with low income families. Secondly, he said he would start a job training program and he did, under the guidance of Department of Job and Family services, On The Job training or (OJT) in partnership with Ohio businesses, there is vibrant training program; the website is easy to navigate and there are a lot of helpful links and guidance for applicants. In another example, while many republicans give their undying support for school choice; pushing for vouchers and charter schools, Kasich is too, but at the same time, he has been determined to make sure all the schools including charter schools, maintain high standards. After receiving a review of the schools he has said that he will be putting in stricter rules to comply with educational standards. Lately, the biggest concerns have been the relationship with the police and the community. In light of police shooting tragedies, Governor Kasich met with Congressional black caucus members. He believes a task force will help in making healthy police and community relations.
Minorities also care about health care. Some Governors have refuse their state to participate in Obama’s health care plan. Governor Kasich has taken heat from his conservative republican friends for agreeing to go along with terms of Obama’s Affordable Care Act; He pushed to expand Medicare in the state.
Finally, EVERY voter is tired of the gridlock in Washington. Governor Kasich must be aware of this too. He has signed bills that were largely cosponsored by both parties including bills cosponsored by popular and outspoken Senator Nina Turner (D) of Cleveland, who worked with the Governor to reform troubled Cleveland schools and this month he named her the co-chair of New Task Force on Police Relations.
Ask, Governor Kasich what party he belongs to, he will proudly tell you that he is a proud Republican. But people don’t seem to care; African Americans largely vote for Democrats but Kasich won the endorsement from the Call and Post, the largest African American newspaper in Ohio, his re-election results show he won 26% of the African American vote. These kinds of numbers may not mean much in a typical governor’s race but Ohio is one of the most important electoral battles in a Presidential election. A moderately known republican who garners support from African Americans creates a dilemma from establishment republicans who hasn’t been able to get their attention. Kasich is rarely mentioned in the “most formidable Presidential candidates of 2016”. Perhaps they should. In 2008, a little known politician (First term Senator, Barack Obama) spoke to the needs of all Americans. He ran against a slew of well-known career politicians and he beat them twice. Is Kasich interested in the Presidency?, he hasn’t said yet, but it’s my guess that if he does, by then, he will have grown a bigger audience.