"More so than any other leading Republican," Gov. John Kasich (R) "is using his perch to promote a blend of conservative orthodoxy leavened with liberal policies meant to help the poor, the mentally ill and the uninsured. To hear him tell it, the 61-year-old onetime Lehman Brothers executive wants to rebrand the Republican Party by refashioning what it means to be a conservative in the 21st century." Kasich has seen vigorous opposition from conservatives and praise from liberals for his push on Medicaid expansion. He has also "steered millions more dollars into local food banks, forced insurance companies to provide coverage for children with autism and signed legislation to make it easier for recently released felons to clear their names and find jobs." Kasich: "I have a chance to shape what it means to be a Republican. ... I have a chance to show what it means to be successful economically but also to have a compassionate side, a caring side, to help lift people up."
Former GOP chair Ed Gillespie: "John is showing, perhaps more visibly than anyone, that conservatives can care deeply about those who are overlooked and are at risk of being left behind. ... This is a very important thing for our party to demonstrate."
Conservative leader Tom Zawistowski: "Kasich is so far off the reservation, it's incredible."
State Rep. Bill Patmon (D): "He is becoming the people's governor."
A June Quinnipiac poll showed his numbers rebounding greatly from their dismal lows in 2011. (Wall Street Journal)
BIGGER COMPLAINT. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D) "has expanded an ethics complaint involving practices of the state's new privatized job-creation office." In a letter Thursday, FitzGerald cited an AP report "detailing Kasich's financial and political ties to a Fortune 500 steel processor whose subsidiaries are cleared" to get $619K in state tax incentives recommended by JobsOhio. "FitzGerald requested the commission add review of Kasich's relationship to Worthington Industries to a complaint he'd already filed seeking panel input on potential conflicts of interest on JobsOhio's board." (AP)
LITTLE DEBBIE HELP. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will join FitzGerald and others for a $500-a-plate fundraiser this month to benefit the Ohio Democratic Party. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
-- Julie Sobel