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Kasich is expected to take a victory lap, lay out priorities
Governor's fourth state of the state is likely to include a re-election message

Karen Kasler
Kasich's third state of the state was budget heavy; this one is likely to focus on policies.
Courtesy of State of Ohio
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In The Region:

Gov. John Kasich’s fourth State of the State address is tonight in Medina in northeast Ohio. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler has a preview of what’s expected to be a big speech.

LISTEN: State of state preview

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LISTEN: Extended preview Ohio's state of state

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Gov. John Kasich has been asked about what might be in his State of the State speech for weeks. At an Associated Press event in January, Kasich admitted he didn’t know what he’d say. But he did say that it was likely that he might preview some things that he’s working on for his budget update – the mid-biennium review or MBR.

“Taxes, economic development, education, job training – I mean, there’s so many things yet to do. Maybe some initiatives that are around poverty.” 

Jobs remain Ohio's No. 1 concern
For the last few months, Kasich has been talking about how Ohio has added 175,000 private sector jobs since he took office and how the state has a $1.5 billion in its rainy-day savings account compared to the 89 cents in it in 2010. And he’s also likely to mention efforts to combat drug addiction and could touch on human trafficking, two causes he’s very concerned about.

But Kasich said he couldn’t be more specific about the content of the speech, because he wouldn’t write it until a few days beforehand. But he’s likely thought about it for months. Jon Allison was chief of staff for two-term Republican Gov. Bob Taft, and says the State of the State address in the year the governor is running for re-election is a different kind of speech. 

Victory laps
“You certainly want to do a victory lap and make the case for your successes during the first part of your term. But you also want to try to set the narrative for your priorities with the legislature and kind of set the general narrative for the re-election campaign. It’s a big speech.”

While both the Republican majority and the Democratic minority will have official response press conferences, Kasich’s likely Democratic opponent will also have a few reactions, he’s already shared a few thoughts. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald spoke with reporters Friday, just before launching his “Real State of the State” tour across Ohio this weekend.

Cuts in voting access
He and his running mate Sharen Neuhardt stopped in Akron, Cleveland, Medina, Youngstown, Columbus, Toledo and Lima, among other cities. Tonight, he’ll be watching Kasich’s speech from in his hometown of Lakewood, 25 miles from the Medina Performing Arts Center. “We have a different view of how Ohio is doing and what the priorities of the state should be.”

One example, FitzGerald says, are the two bills Kasich signed Friday, which shorten the early-voting period and allow only the Secretary of State to send out unsolicited absentee ballot applications – and only if the Legislature sets aside the money. 

“To me it’s another example of misplaced priorities. There are over 400,000 people out of work in Ohio. We’re 45th in the country in job creation recently. That’s what the focus should be on.”

FitzGerald’s State of the County address was a week ago. Last year, he and Kasich delivered their big annual speeches on the same day. Kasich says of tonight’s speech, “hopefully it will not a real long talk.”

Last year’s speech in Lima was his shortest State of the State, at 62 minutes. His longest was his first on-the-road State of the State in 2012 in Steubenville; he talked for nearly 83 minutes.


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