Ohio Gov. John Kasich talked up momentum and gave a shout-out to Toledo Mayor Mike Bell during a speech to some 500 guests at the Lucas County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner on Thursday.
“When you lose that momentum, you don’t move forward,” the Republican governor said in the Premier banquet hall on Heatherdowns Boulevard in South Toledo. Recalling his previous Lincoln Day appearance in 2009 as a candidate, Mr. Kasich said, “The last time I was here there was not this kind of momentum. There was a kind of a pall over the place.”
He said Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook deserved credit and invited a round of applause. Tickets for the event, which raises money for the county GOP, were $50 per person.
Among the attendees was Mayor Bell, formerly a Democrat and now an independent, and a candidate for election to a second, four-year term.
PHOTO GALLERY: Kasich speaks at Lincoln Day Dinner
Mr. Bell and Mr. Kasich have been close since the Toledo mayor endorsed Governor Kasich’s ill-fated effort in 2011 to weaken public-employee bargaining rights in Ohio. Mr. Bell said he is an independent because he thinks the answer is “somewhere in the middle.” He said he attended a Democratic event on Saturday.
During his speech, Mr. Kasich gave a shout-out, not exactly an endorsement, to Mayor Bell, whom he called “my buddy.”
“I’ll tell you somebody who sticks up for the public good and puts his neck on the line — Mayor Bell. And his opponent holds a news conference outside a fire station,” Mr. Kasich said, apparently referring to Democratic mayoral candidate Joe McNamara, a city councilman, who kicked off his campaign in front of a historic firehouse in North Toledo. Mr. Bell is a former Toledo fire chief.
Sitting at the head table was Theresa Gabriel, a former city official who is considering running for mayor as a Republican.
Mr. Bell said he supports the governor’s budget plan and the Medicaid expansion.
“I actually am largely supportive of it because I think there will be some benefits to northwest Ohio. We have to come up with creative ways of doing things,” Mr. Bell said. “We can’t do it by raising taxes and so I think he’s trying to be creative, I think he’s thinking outside of the box. At this particular time in history, that’s sort of what you have to do.”
The two of them met briefly before the dinner to have “general conversation — nothing too specific,” Mr. Bell said.
Mr. Kasich touted his plan to accept federal funds to pay for Medicaid eligibility for an estimated 400,000 Ohioans who are currently not enrolled in health insurance as the right thing to do for people who need help.
He told stories of seeing people living under bridges or being in jail for behavior that more appropriately should be treated as mental illness.
“We’re going to be able to cover the working poor, cover people who have mental illness, cover people with these addictions,” Mr. Kasich said. “Who cares? I do. The good book says you don’t ignore the least among you. You ignore the least among you and you’re not following the giant message of the good book.”
The speech covered many of the points he made in trying to sell his $63.3 billion budget plan to the Ohio General Assembly two nights earlier in the State of the State speech in Lima.
“Taxes are too high. If I go to Kmart to buy socks — I do that sometimes — I pay taxes on that. But if I go to see a lawyer I don’t pay taxes on that,” Mr. Kasich said, alluding to his plan to expand the base of services covered by the sales tax to raise additional revenue. “We are now broadening the base to include a number of services.”
Though Mr. Kasich has portrayed the services that will be newly taxed as typically affecting more affluent Ohioans, Democrats say many of those services, such as laundry and entertainment, are used by lower and middle-income people as well.
Anita Lopez, the Democratic Lucas County auditor and a likely candidate for mayor of Toledo, is expected to give a local Democratic response today to the governor’s budget proposals. Ms. Lopez and Democratic Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz will comment on “the governor’s scheme to pass one of the largest middle-class tax increases in Ohio’s history in order to finance a handout for the super-wealthy, all while failing to support schools and local governments,” said Jerid Kurtz, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party.
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058.