Ohio governor urges GOP to take advantage of his jobs record

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich urged fellow Republicans Monday to use his administration’s economic success to cheer people up and win votes this fall.

His advice came at a news conference with his budget director and the head of JobsOhio, the state’s privatized economic development office, where Kasich touted a series of positive trends: Ohio’s job creation rate is outpacing the nation’s, unemployment is falling, wages are growing and 520,000 jobs have been created.

“You run on this record,” he said to the GOP’s 2018 candidates, some of whom have distanced themselves from him.

Kasich, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump since leaving the 2016 presidential race, said a “jobs and progress” message — one successfully used by the late Republican Ohio Gov. James Rhodes — can give people hope amid negative news out of Washington.

Yet some fellow Republicans in his closely divided political state continue to distance themselves from him, including Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who lost her bid for governor last month.

Besides refusing to endorse, campaign with or vote for Trump, Kasich has supported some positions that irk some Republicans, including supporting Medicaid expansion allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed 69 percent of Ohioans are happy with the direction the state is moving in and Kasich’s job approval rating remains strong — though more now among Democrats than Republicans.

Kasich said his budgets have employed techniques long favored by Republicans, including tax cuts and spending reductions. So, if Democrats like him, Republicans can use that to their advantage.