With a lot less fanfare, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio outdid Scott Walker of Wisconsin in passing a bill stripping collective bargaining right for public unions that included firefighters and police. It was one of the prime reasons the Republicans lost the support of the national police and firefighters unions.
Now one of the key pillars of GOP support, the state Chamber of Commerce is showing cracks.State and local Chambers of Commerce are a lot different than the U.S. Chamber which does little other than carry water for the largest corporations. Local Chambers have a GOP bent but they are far more supportive of small and mid sized businesses. The Kasich election was the first time they had officially endorsed a candidate for governor, having preferred to stay neutral in the past. Ohio, with a large urban population and strong labor tradition has a lot more Democratic support than most other mid-western states.
Like Walker in Wisconsin, Kasich gave no hint during the campaign of animosity towards public unions. The police union's endorsement of the sponsor of the SB 5, the bill in question had a lot to do with the police union's turnaround.
Kasich's approval rating has plunged to the low 30's and a recall petition to allow voters to vote on the bill is well underway. Some business have realized that 'duh', support of the bill might alienate some customers. While the crack is small a number of businesses have quit the Chamber. The union has started a Proud Ohio Workers program encouraging business owners to put a sticker in their window and sign a letter signaling that they're "worker-friendly." Within a couple of weeks over 400 businesses have jumped aboard.
Unions are expected to spend $20 million on the SB 5 recall effort and Kasich will beed similar support from the Chamber. It might not be forthcoming considering the toxic cloud surrounding Kasich and the Republicans in Ohio.
Stunts like this, especially in not revealing their intentions in campaigning has incensed large swaths of the population. An ignored undercurrent in the political story over the past few months has been the dramatic overreach of Republicans. It's galvanized opposition and a just released poll shows that 48% of Americans now believe the GOP house as extremist while only 40$ regard them as 'mainstream'.
All that's needed now is for the White House to embrace this poll and use the bully pulpit to keep hammering away on this issue.