In Ohio a state law promoted by Ohio Governor John Kasich and the Republican legislature that would have restricted collective bargaining rights for public sector unions, including police and fire, was repealed by voters. The law married two concepts: the first was to force public sector unions to contribute additional money to health care and pensions. The second restricted the collective bargaining rights of unions. Republicans, sensing strong public support for the idea of unions contributing more for their own health care and pensions, decided to reach a bit further and to take out the unions politically. That overreach led to a stinging rebuke for the Governor, as the law was defeated by a 62% to 38% margin.
The Governor, like his counterpart in Wisconsin, could have had the higher contribution rates from the unions fairly easily. The decision to attempt to politically neuter the unions was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The union political response was strong, and united. Unlike Scott Walker in Wisconsin Governor Kasich chose to not issue exemptions to either police or fire, and so created a political and fundraising unity on the union side that led to the electoral rout. The pro-union side raised about $30 million, while the laws supporters raised under $8 million. The Governor was chastened: From the Washington Post.
“It’s clear that the people have spoken and my view is, when people speak in a campaign like this you have to listen,” Kasich said in a press conference after the results came in. He said he would “take a deep breath” and think about the results. “But let me be clear, there is no bailout coming” for the state, he said, adding that he would work with local governments to curb costs.
Now you can see why Mitt Romney was hedging his bets when discussing his “support” for Governor Kasich and the law, called “Issue 2”. Romney knew where this referendum was headed, and wanted to get away from a law that he knew was deeply unpopular with Ohio voters. The Mittster was pulled back into line by Ohio Republicans in short order, making statements in favor of the repealed law that will surely show up in some political ads in Ohio real soon. A big win for unions, and a pretty severe defeat for Governor Kasich and Ohio Republicans, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Read the Washington Post story here.