News & Politics

John Kasich’s Argument Against Statehood: Too Many Democrats

Ohio Governor John Kasich. Photograph by Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who for some reason is still running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, is against DC statehood like most members of his party. But in an interview with the Washington Post editorial board, he’s at least honest that his opposition is blatantly partisan.

“I am not [for statehood], because you know what, what it really gets down to if you want to be honest is because they know that’s just more votes in the Democratic Party,” Kasich said.

Kasich, who voted against admitting the District as a state while he was a member of the House, was asked by the Post editorial board’s Jo-Ann Armao if he still sided that way, even though DC residents serve in the military and pay federal taxes. After a fair bit of mealy-mouthing—”I don’t know. I’d have to, I mean, to me, that’s just, I just don’t see that we really need that, okay?” Kasich said—he finally copped to the party balance.

“So if there were Republicans in the District, you would have a different position?” Armao asked.

“Yeah, okay, well look, they send me a bill, I’m president of the United States, I’ll read your editorials,” Kasich replied.

It’s easy to miss DC’s Republican Party, which represents just 6.25 percent of the city’s registered voters. But Kasich has no excuse to overlook DC Republicans, who provided one of the few bright spots for his campaign when he finished second at their party convention last month to Florida Senator Marco Rubio and collected nine delegates. (Kasich has a total of 148, mostly from his home state.)

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser last week proposed putting a statehood referendum on this year’s general-election ballot. While it wouldn’t have any force of law, it would most likely show that District residents favor full participation in the republic by a more than two-to-one margin.

Kasich is currently running a distant second to Donald Trump in next week’s Maryland primary. A memo from his campaign—described as the “#NeverTrump Strategy” for Maryland and other mid-Atlantic states—predicts he won’t pull off an upset, but might do well in the Fourth and Eighth districts, the two closest to DC. Maryland Republicans will award 38 delegates in their primary; Kasich currently needs 148 percent of all remaining delegates to reach the 1,237 required to clinch the nomination.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.