Image: AP

With Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio out of the running, Ohio Governor John Kasich is the establishment candidate no one saw coming. And sure, compared to the rest of the GOP’s increasingly terrifying sideshows in suits, Kasich comes across as sane. But don’t be fooled: John Kasich is just as much of a monster as the rest—he just hides it better.

He Hates Unions (Except When He Pretends Not to)

In March of 2009, Kasich infamously (at least in Ohio) noted that the state needed to “break the back of organized labor in schools.” Which is to say, John Kasich would like to break the back of the teachers unions. The same teachers unions that have, according to him, “smeared my record and distorted it.” It’s not just teachers Kasich wants to bust; it’s organized labor in general. From The Columbus Dispatch:

Kasich, who is backed by business groups, also opposes paying prevailing wages on state-funded construction projects. And as part of a sweeping review of state laws and regulations, he wants to reexamine the 1983 law that gave public employees in Ohio the right to collective bargaining, arbitration and strike (except for safety forces).

It would sound a lot better to the many union card-carrying voters of Ohio if Kasich didn’t want to tear down unions as a whole, though. That’s why when discussing his opposition to prevailing wages, Kasich follows with, “I grew up in a blue-collar family in a community dominated by organized labor. I consider organized labor to be positive.”

Just as long as they’re not organized to do anything important.

He Made Ohio’s Bad Economy Worse

John Kasich loves to talk about how he brought jobs back to Ohio after the recession. The problem with that line of thinking, though, is that every state regained jobs after the recession. In fact, most states even managed return to pre-recession employment rates. Ohio was not one of those states.

According to, by May of 2014, Ohio actually had 119,900 fewer jobs than when the recession began. As for the jobs Kasich did create, the majority were low-wage. According to a 2014 report by a progressive Cleveland think tank, Ohio’s median wage was nearly a dollar below the national average at $15.81 per hour.

Some of this might have been helped if not for Kasich’s proposed 2012-2013 budget, which saw the Ohio Department of Education’s funding slashed by 10.2 percent. According to a local think tank, this put 51,000 jobs at risk.

He Gutted Education

Like Jeb, Kasich is big on charter schools, which in his case meant spending over $1 billion on a program that exists to divert public funding to private pockets. According to progressive advocacy group Innovation Ohio:

  • Traditional public schools, which educate 90 percent of Ohio’s kids, receive $515 million less state funding than before Gov. Kasich took office.
  • Charter school funding has increased by 27 percent, and charters now receive more state money per pupil than do traditional public schools.

What’s more, The Akron Beacon Journal reported that “state auditors have uncovered $27.3 million improperly spent by charter schools, many run by for-profit companies, enrolling thousands of children and producing academic results that rival the worst in the nation.”

And then! When poorly performing charter schools were mysteriously scrubbed from state evaluation reports by David Hansen (the husband of Kasich’s campaign manager), Kasich shrugged off any suggestion of an investigation, saying , “I mean, the guy is gone,” and “It’s just a political thing.”

He’s a Dick

It’s incredibly fortunate for John Kasich that Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz. Because if he weren’t standing next to an opponent so phenomenally, nauseatingly unlikeable, we all might realize that Kasich himself is also a dick.

While spending several days with reporter Molly Ball for a profile in The Atlantic, Kasich told Ball that:

...he did not read The Atlantic—and his wife didn’t, either. He said that my job, writing about politics and politicians, was “really a dumb thing to do.” Later, he singled me out in a meeting of cabinet officials to upbraid me for what he considered a stupid question in one of our interviews.

Not only is Kasich just a general asshole, he’s petty, too. When LeBron James left Cleveland, Kasich was mad. And when the Dallas Mavericks beat LeBron back in 2011, Kasich was delighted. So much so that he decided to make the Mavericks “honorary Ohioans for the day” by issuing the below decree:

A great use of the governor’s time.

He Views the Silent Treatment as a Reasonable Tool for Governing

Back in 2014, John Kasich was asked about his decision to sign into law a provision prohibiting rape crisis counselors from referring rape victims to abortion services. In other words, John Kasich imposed a rape crisis counselor gag rule. Instead of answering a perfectly reasonable question about an incredibly pernicious law, Kasich just... ignored it.

After a few minutes, though, it becomes clear. John Kasich isn’t ignoring the question exactly—he’s just pretending that the man who asked it doesn’t exist. The very same tactic employed by five-year-old divas everywhere.

Update 11:14 p.m.: We originally overlooked the fact that the man being shunned was, in fact, Kasich’s Democratic opponent for Governor in 2014, Ed Fitzgerald. Apparently, Kasich nearly made it through his entire campaign without once saying Fitzgerald’s name (much less acknowledging his existence at all). Of course, Fitzgerald wasn’t exactly a vision of perfect decorum himself—but at least he knew how to behave like an adult.

He’s Terrible for Women

Dangerously backwards women’s health laws aren’t just for the South anymore. In fact, Ohio has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, mostly thanks to John Kasich.

In just five years, Kasich manged to pass 11 different laws restricting abortion rights for women. Mother Jones points out that “since 2011, half of Ohio’s 16 clinics have closed, and according to The Columbus Dispatch three of the remaining eight are in risk of closing if they cannot find a hospital within 30 miles willing to enter a transfer agreement.”

One of those bills, passed in 2013, took away about $1.4 million dollars from Planned Parenthood by “reprioritizing.” From The Dispatch:

Under the bill, abortion clinics must have a transfer agreement with a hospital, but they are prohibited from signing one with a public hospital. The bill also requires a doctor to perform an external ultrasound prior to an abortion to search for a heartbeat, and if one is found, must inform the woman. The doctor also must tell the woman the likelihood of the fetus surviving to a full term, and it redefines a fetus as “developing from the moment of conception,” rather than when a fertilized egg has been implanted in the uterus.

Since clinics are prohibited from signing agreements with public hospitals, that leaves them to seek agreements with privately funded hospitals only—the same privately funded hospitals typically backed by religious groups. But don’t worry! The bill does give funding to crisis pregnancy centers, which not only offers women alternatives to abortion but also “medically inaccurate information.”

As Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told Mother Jones, “He is, if not the worst, among the worst of anti-choice governors in this country’s history.” There’s your reasonable, moderate Republican, everyone!