Dayton Daily News: Kasich Surprises with Social Agenda

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I cannot tell you how proud I am of our governor. His critics simply do not know what they are talking about and one suspects they also do not know what they are missing. This is exactly what a person’s faith ought to lead to, irrespective of one’s work, vocation, or station in life.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has surprised some people with a first-term agenda that called for expanding Medicaid to serve more poor people, improving mental health services, giving ex-cons a second chance and rescuing women and children enslaved by human traffickers.

The positions seem more the wish list of a social worker than a hard-nosed conservative Republican politician who used to work on Wall Street. And the Medicaid expansion in particular is strongly opposed by many members of his party.

Kasich’s close friends and the governor himself say a deep Christian faith is driving him to take these positions. Critics say Kasich is pandering to voters, and his likely opponent in next year’s governor’s race, Democrat Ed FitzGerald, accuses him of paying mere lip service to the Medicaid expansion while doing little to sway GOP leaders in the General Assembly to follow his lead.

But while some may question his actions, few would have predicted he would become such a vocal advocate for expanding Medicaid, a program often targeted by Republicans as wasteful. And Kasich has raised eyebrows with the way he has urged support, often peppering his comments with references to God, life after death and his own religious experience.

University of Akron political scientist John Green, a national expert on politics and religion, said it is common place for politicians to speak in general terms about religion. But Kasich “also puts these faith-based arguments in a policy context, advancing his particular agenda,” he said. “And that is a little bit unusual.”