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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Will Obamacare affect Ohio governor's race?

President Barack Obama once again made an appearance in Cleveland, stopping Thursday at steelmaker ArcelorMittal for what was intended to be a speech about the economy.

However, the president earlier in the day had made a statement from Washington about his plan to allow health care insurers to extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled next year and to allow people whose plans have been canceled to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.

So when he came to the friendly confines of Cleveland, where he has traditionally enjoyed tremendous support in the past, Obama spent a significant part of his speech focusing on the new health care law.

No surprise, but it was interesting to see the president gave praise to Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who pushed for Ohio to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage to provide an estimated 275,000 people health care coverage.

Obama said that it was the right thing for the governor to do and that sometimes leaders need to put politics aside and do what is best for the people.

Conservative Republicans have criticized the effort to expand Medicaid in Ohio and a lawsuit is pending that challenges the authority of the Ohio Controlling Board, which voted earlier to accept the federal funding.

Plus, the Ohio Republican Party has begun to ramp up efforts to make health care a central focus during the 2014 election in Ohio.

State GOP leaders will look to hold Ohio Democrats responsible for the new health care law and urge people who believe they have been harmed by the changes to share their story by visiting

What I think will be interesting is how Republicans plan to push out that message while at the same time work to get Kasich elected.

It may be a delicate situation, but how the economy goes next year in Ohio will likely be an important issue and critical to Kasich as he seeks a second term.

The governor has said that he opposes Obamacare in principal, but he also felt expanding Medicaid in Ohio was the best decision for the state.

The Ohio Democratic Party this week touted a recent poll they sponsored that suggests the race for governor next year is in a dead heat between Kasich and Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat.

It suggests that if the election were held now, Kasich and FitzGerald would each receive about 41 percent, and Libertarian Charlie Earl would receive 6 percent.

About 13 percent of those who responded said they weren’t sure for whom they’d vote.

The margin of error in the poll was plus or minus 4 percent, but again keep in mind it was sponsored by the state Democratic Party.

A lot will happen before next year’s election that will affect the governor’s race, but something I will find interesting is just exactly how the national focus on health care reform will play a role.

Would a successful implementation of Obamacare hurt or help Kasich?

Acting Geauga commissioner

A week ago, Geauga County Republicans appointed Blake Rear to serve as a new county commissioner to replace Tracy Jemison, who retired effective Oct. 31.

Rear, who is the county GOP vice president and former Chardon School Board member, learned Thursday morning that his fellow commissioners wanted to swear him in as acting county commissioner at their meeting.

At that time, the paperwork hadn’t been completely processed by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to official make Rear a commissioner.

So by swearing him in as an acting commissioner, the Board of Commissioners would have each of the three seats filled.

The idea was that if something should happen to either Commissioners Mary Samide or Ralph Spidalieri, the county would be able to continue have a quorum at meetings with at least two commissioners in office.

It wasn’t an unprecedented move, as Geauga County commissioners also did the same last year when Spidalieri was sworn-in as an acting commissioner prior to beginning his term in January.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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