Karen Kasich, wife of Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, campaigns for her husband in North Toledo. Joining her were twin daughters Reese, left, and Emma, and state Sen. Steve Buehrer (R., Delta), at far left, and State Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills).
Karen Kasich chose a busy industrial street in North Toledo, and one of the central disputes of the campaign, in which to make her debut as a political speechmaker Friday.
Standing across North Detroit Avenue from the shuttered New Mather Metals Inc., the wife of Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich said her husband would "help bring jobs and prosperity back to the state."
Mr. Kasich, a former congressman and Fox News host, is challenging Democratic incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland in the election that winds up Nov. 2.
"I'm here to speak to you as a mother concerned about her children. I want there to be jobs here," Mrs. Kasich said. She cited the loss of nearly 400,000 jobs in Ohio since January, 2007, adding, "we're not losing them to India. We're losing them to Indiana."
Mrs. Kasich said it was her first solo campaign speech, although she has campaigned with her husband in parades, fund-raisers, and rallies, and she is featured in a campaign video. The couple's twin daughters, Emma and Reese, who are 10, accompanied their mother.
The location was selected to highlight claims by the Kasich campaign that Ohio has lost more jobs to other states than to China and Mexico as claimed by the Strickland campaign.
New Mather Metals Inc. laid off 168 employees from its plant at 5270 North Detroit in April. The parent company, based in Japan, announced last year it would phase out the plant because of weak demand for its stabilizer bars and a negative outlook for the auto industry.
The company said it would move the work and the company headquarters to a sister plant built in Franklin, Ky., in 2001.
In interviews for The Blade's recent investigative series Shut Down & Shipped Out, which looked at the loss of factories from this area, New Mather officials said that about 30 percent of production was moved to Kentucky and the rest to Mexico.
The Blade's series revealed that about 140 factories with 20 or more employees have closed in northwest Ohio dating back to 2000. At least 52 companies relocated work elsewhere within the United States, and 37 shifted work to another country.
Mr. Kasich has said he would replace the Ohio Department of Development with a private, nonprofit corporation governed by a 12-member board - a move Mr. Strickland said would be dangerous and irresponsible.
Lis Smith, communications director for Governor Strickland, said, "As The Blade has highlighted, New Mather Materials is one of many Ohio companies that was devastated by NAFTA, which Congressman Kasich supported and Ted Strickland opposed.
"This is exactly why Ohioans can't afford to elect Congressman Kasich: His support for bad trade deals and his plan to hand economic development over to a group of handpicked CEOs might make sense on Wall Street, but it is bad for Ohio," she said.
State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R., Delta), who joined Mrs. Kasich at the campaign stop, said Mr. Strickland has made Ohio a difficult place for business.
"His programs have driven up [workers' compensation] premiums for half the employers in the state of Ohio. These are the type of reasons why we have this empty facility sitting across from us today," Mr. Buehrer said.
Mrs. Kasich continued her speaking tour in Bowling Green, Upper Sandusky, Fostoria, and Marion.
Governor Strickland's wife, Frances Strickland, campaigned in Toledo for her husband during a tour with other members of the Democratic statewide ticket Sept. 29.
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