Republican Gov. John Kasich, who leaves office next month, put it all on the record Thursday at a lunch meeting with the press. Here is what we learned:
1. No Regrets. “I’m totally thrilled with the eight years. It was a great time,” he said. “There is one little regret I’m not going to tell you. I’m really, really mad about this Lake Erie stuff. I’m really incensed over it.” The governor has been battling agriculture interests and lawmakers over rules to reduce farm fertilizer runoff into the lake.
2. What will he miss? Kasich said he will miss having the power to fix problems that afflict people who are down and out. “That’s the coolest thing about the job.”
3. Vetoes. Kasich promised to use his veto pen at the last possible second but he declined to specifically say which bills he would be rejecting later this month. But he gave some hints when he said he had no interest in giving the gun lobby any more power — House Bill 228, an expansion of gun rights, is on his desk now — and he referenced a plan to raise pay for lawmakers and other elected leaders as a “grubby pay bill.” “I have no joy in having to veto stuff but I’m not going to sign stuff that I don’t agree with in a deep way,” he said.
4. Family. The governor’s twin daughters are returning home to the nest for the Christmas holiday but Kasich said he hasn’t noticed a big difference in his life now that he and his wife, Karen, are empty-nesters for the first time in 18 years. He also noted that one daughter recently wrecked her car — no injuries to anyone — but the accident shook him up. “You got to be able to absorb the things that come at you that are really hard,” he said.
5. Future. The governor is considering writing another book — his fifth. There is no working title yet and Kasich described it this way: “It’s about whether you matter or not. Do you know you’re going to die? What is your temporal purpose and what is your eternal destiny?”
6. Driving. After eight years of being shuttled by the Ohio Highway Patrol, Kasich got behind the wheel this week and drove himself around Columbus.
7. Politics and Religion. Kasich, who never hesitates to express his faith, said he is worried about religion and government mixing. “Religion can affect my being but I am not there to shove my religion down your throat,” he said. “…We do not want to sully religion with politics and we don’t want to have religion in the government. That’s not what this country has been about. That does not mean we’re not a moral people.”
8. Gun Violence. The governor repeated his call for elected leaders to address gun violence through what he considers reasonable restrictions such as adopting a red flag law that would allow police or family members to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who appears to be a danger to themselves or others. Kasich said shootings are so common now that he finds himself advising his daughters to always look for the exits in public places.