COLUMBUS — Gov.-elect John Kasich called together the Statehouse lobbying community for a luncheon Thursday and delivered a bold and urgent message:
Either help change the state or get out of the way.
“If you think you’re going to stop us, you’re crazy. You will not stop us. We will beat you,” Kasich said. “We will listen to you. If you think we’re doing something that really doesn’t make sense, tell us.
“If you think that I’m going in the wrong direction, stop me. I don’t want to drive over a cliff. I just want to be a good governor.”
Kasich, a Republican, asked the lobbyists to join his team to make Ohio great.
“This is our chance,” he said. “Please leave the cynicism and political maneuvering at the door.”
He said that he needed them to get aboard “the bus.”
“If you’re not on the bus, we’ll run over you with the bus,” he said. “And I’m not kidding.”
Kasich, speaking just two days after unseating Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland, got a standing ovation from the lobbyists — representing doctors, hospitals, local governments, schools, religious organizations, energy companies and other interests — who listened politely.
They liked what they heard, even though Kasich warned them of tough days ahead, said Don Mottley, a former Dayton-area Republican state legislator.
“I think he has a Ronald Reagan kind of optimism, a very strong sense that we’re going through a tough period and we’re going to have to make tough decisions, but we’re ultimately going to be better off than we are now. ... Our best days are ahead,” said Mottley.
Chip Gerhardt, a Cincinnati-based lobbyist, said he and others needed to pay attention.
“The people of Ohio elected him for a reason. We need to understand that as an industry and be part of the solution,” said Gerhardt.
After the lunch, Kasich said he was headed to northeast Ohio to speak with top officials at a large employer who may be considering leaving Ohio. He declined to name the company or provide other specifics.
William Hershey in the Columbus Bureau contributed to this report.
Contact this reporter at (614) 224-1624 or lbischoff@DaytonDailyNews.com.