NBC BLK: Three Questions Black Voters Should Ask John Kasich

Today, Governor John Kasich became the 16th and final Republican to enter the race for the GOP Nomination in 2016. This means that the Republican presidential field now has more official entrants than at any point in American history. There are enough Republicans now running to field a flag football team, or compete in the opening round of The Voice. This may be a boon or a bust for our democracy but we’ll be covering it all the way until election-day.

NBCBLK is putting together a series of articles posing practical questions towards candidates running for office: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bernie Sanders, Scott Walker for starters.

We don’t presume an “African American” political agenda, (something that may or may not exist for that matter). Instead we look at policy and home turf issues, and evaluate how those factors would specifically impact African American voters. In 2016 the African American vote is not a lock for the Democrats or the Republicans so the questions we pose are the kinds that any political leader should be prepared to answer if they want to win.

In 2014 John Kasich won 26 percent of the black vote; that breaks down to 1 out of every 3 black men and 1 out of every 5 black woman. Mind you, 2014 had the lowest voter turnout in Ohio in almost 40 years, but by the numbers only Kasich and Chris Christie can boast getting upwards of 20 percent of the African American vote while serving as governors. It is fair to assume Kasich (who repeatedly made references to African American Ohioans in his announcement speech) will make a sincere effort at black voters. So when he is approaching African American voters what kinds of questions should Governor Kasich be expected to answer?

1.What is John Kasich’s Plan for Healthcare?

Kasich pulled away from the rest of the Republican pack by agreeing to expand Medicaid and Medicare as governor of Ohio and had some choice words for those on the right who criticized his decision. This has resulted in improvements in health care coverage throughout the state of Ohio and for African Americans in particular. However the Republican Party will likely maintain control of the House and the Senate after the 2016 election and both chambers are committed to ending “Obamacare”. The question for Kasich is, what will he do to the Affordable Care Act if he were to become president? Gut it, as many Republicans are clamoring for, or provide some type of modifications similar to what he did in Ohio?

2.What is John Kasich’s Plan for Criminal Justice reform?

Unlike Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, it is unlikely that most Republican candidates will face high profile #BlackLivesMatter protests at their campaign events. However two of the most disturbing and high profile attacks on unarmed African Americans (Tamir Rice and John Crawford) occurred in Ohio in the last 18 months and minds feel that justice has not been served in either case.

Under the guidance of State Senator Nina Turner, John Kasich signed an executive order to standardize police practices in Ohio and create a taskforce to improve diversity and transparency of police departments. What would a President Kasich do to address the economic and social problems associated with police brutality and racial discrimination?

3. Does John Kasich Have a Plan for African American Voters?

John Kasich is typical of many Obama era Republican governors in that he: 1) Actually attempts to court African American voters and 2) Steadfastly refuses to initiate any policy that would specifically help black voters, instead preferring to believe that his overall economic and government policies will help everyone.

And as we all know, that whole “rising tides lifts all boats” attitude is great…unless you don’t have a boat. Consequently, while Ohio has improved in some ways under Kasich, his policies haven’t necessarily improved the lives of African American Ohioans. Ohio is roughly ranked highest in the nation for black infant mortality and the 6th worst state in which to raise a black child.

The median income for African Americans in Ohio is almost $20,000 a year less than that of white Ohioans ($26,039 vs $45,400) and growing every year under his terms. Cleveland is one of the 10 most segregated cities in America, and since Kasich took office, the administration’s record on black voter suppression has been terrible.

In other words, Kasich’s record with black voters is pretty horrible despite his success with the black vote in 2014. Candidate Kasich should be able to explain how these numbers have occurred or gotten worse under his leadership and what he would plan to do for black voters if he were to become president.

This article originally appeared online at NBC BLK.

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