By Jim Bailey
For The Herald Bulletin
Before he starts ripping his nearest neighbor, it would behoove Ohio Gov. John Kasich to learn more about his subject.
During a Cincinnati speech, where he allegedly was trying to promote his state’s business climate, Kasich couldn’t resist taking a jab at the state to his west: “This is not Indiana where you go to Indianapolis … and then say, ‘Where else are we going to go? Gary?’”
Naturally, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence took exception to the remarks, in a good-natured way. “Indiana is the best state in the Midwest to start a business, grow a business and get a job,” said Pence. “With the Hoosier state consistently winning the competition for fiscal responsibility and reform, somebody should remind the governor of Ohio that trash talk usually comes before the game.”
Ohio, for one thing, has been trying to cover its bases with a new casino in Cincinnati, trying to recoup some of the dollars that have been crossing the state line to the southern Indiana riverboats.
The governor’s parry plays on the Buckeye state having four larger cities in Columbus (787,000), Cleveland (396,000, metro 2.8 million), Cincinnati (296,000, metro 2.1 million) and Toledo (287,000). Indianapolis, though, has grown to 829,000 with a metro population of 1.5 million.
Kasich apparently hasn’t heard of Fort Wayne, population 255,000. Or Evansville (117,000), where you’ll be able to get from here whenever I-69 is completed. Or South Bend (101,168), where some little school by the name of Notre Dame resides. As for Gary, while its population has been cut in half by cutbacks in the steel industry and a high crime rate (to which Cincy and Cleveland aren’t immune either), Lake County as a whole boasts half a million people.
So why is Kasich picking on Indiana? Maybe he feels the need to be nice to Kentucky, where there are Louisville, Lexington, a tiny capital city along with hills and bluegrass, beautiful horses and fast women (or is it the other way around?). Or Michigan, where they still make cars but not as many, and where Detroit has shrunk by 50 percent also. Take away the 9.8 million metro area and that leaves three Great Lakes, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Ann Arbor. And Flint, which is chasing Anderson in population loss.
It seems Kasich could find other targets. Even in Illinois, Chicago has dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 in big-city population and still exceeds the rest of the state. In my birthplace, Minnesota, the doughnut counties around Minneapolis and St. Paul account for probably three-quarters of the state’s population. “One-city states” include Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Idaho, New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, North and South Dakota, Arkansas, Montana and Mississippi. And a few states — Maine, Vermont, Wyoming, Delaware and West Virginia — don’t have a single city over 100,000 without counting the metro area.
But apparently for Kasich, Indiana’s grapes are more sour to his taste buds.
Jim Bailey’s column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.