COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. John Kasich asked Friday to deliver his annual State of the State speech in Wilmington, a rebounding southwest Ohio city hard hit by job losses during the recession.
In a letter to lawmakers, the Republican set the speech date as Tuesday, Feb. 24.
The location allows Kasich to stress his message of Ohio's rebounding economy. The city became a national symbol of the devastating effects of the recession when DHL announced thousands of layoffs there in 2008. The governor visited in 2013 to celebrate hundreds of new jobs returning to Wilmington Air Park, once DHL's home.
The GOP-dominated state Legislature is expected to approve the request in the coming days.
The selection continues Kasich's tradition of taking his signature speech outside of the Statehouse and into the backyards of key state lawmakers.
Wilmington is the seat of Clinton County, home of fledgling GOP House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, of Clarksville. Last year, Kasich delivered the speech in Medina, a Cleveland suburb that's home to then-House Speaker William Batchelder. In 2013, the joint legislative session traveled to Lima, in Senate President Keith Faber's home district, for the speech.
Kasich made history in 2012 by becoming the first governor in modern memory to move the policy speech outside of Columbus. After early grumbling, he received the necessary legislative permission to deliver the speech in the blue-collar Ohio River city of Steubenville. That came a year after protesters marred his first State of the State address at the Statehouse amid a nasty collective bargaining battle.
For Rosenberger, an Air Force veteran who took over for retiring House Speaker William Batchelder this month, having the speech in Wilmington is a coup. It could also serve to grease relations between the governor and the House, where Rosenberger is among the youngest speakers in state history at age 33.
The chamber's Republican caucus is traditionally more conservative than the GOP majority in the Ohio Senate. Last session, for instance, it was the House that blocked Kasich's attempt to expand Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, under the federal Affordable Care Act. A pair of state representatives also tried to repeal Common Core learning standards, even as the state Department of Education was in the process of implementing them under a superintendent favored by the governor.
In a statement, Rosenberger thanked the governor and said it would be an honor to showcase Wilmington and the southwest part of the state. It is Kasich's first time taking the speech south of Columbus.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich: http://www.governor.ohio.gov