Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gov. John Kasich and Ed FitzGerald move into defining phase of 2014 campaign: Analysis

Ohio’s race for governor has reached an important phase.

Define or be defined? That’s the question Republican incumbent John Kasich and probable Democratic nominee Ed FitzGerald are facing as their campaigns enter spring.

Kasich for the moment seems content to define only himself and avoid any direct engagement with his opponent. His recently introduced budget review provides a sense of his priorities for his re-election year and beyond. And when speaking across the state at GOP dinners, a reliable outlet for partisan politics, Kasich sticks almost entirely to policy.

If he were president -- and FitzGerald really wants you to believe that Kasich wants to be -- observers might call this a “Rose Garden” strategy. Kasich will pay FitzGerald no mind until he must and in the meantime use the powers of his office to project strength.

As the challenger, FitzGerald spends far more time picking apart Kasich’s record than talking about his own. The Cuyahoga County executive paints the governor as a creature of Wall Street with one eye out for his rich friends, the other on the White House.

So, for the moment, neither side is doing much, if anything, to define FitzGerald. That is certain to change – and very soon. And there are numbers that help explain why.

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