An historic night in American presidential politics for the Croatian-American community.
It’s another first for the Croatian American community as Ohio Governor, John Kasich has won the Ohio Republican presidential primary with 45% of the vote with 90% of the votes reported and with Donald Trump in second place with roughly 36% of the vote. Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was a distant third in Ohio and also, Donald Trump won a big victory in Florida tonight. On the Democratic side, it was a big night for Hillary Clinton, winning four crucial primary states including Florida, Ohio and Illinois, which makes the former Secretary of State, the odds-on favorite to be the Democratic nominee.
John Kasich, son of a mailman from McKees Rock, Pennsylvania has won a presidential primary and has achieved what no other Croatian American has ever done. We saw Mark Begich win one term in 2008 as a U.S. senator in Alaska and my dad’s close friend, Rudy Perpich won statewide in Minnesota and served for ten years as Governor of my home state. Congressman Dennis Kucinich ran for President in 2008, on the Democratic side but was never able to break the 10% level in any state .
John Kasich, the sitting governor of Ohio, does on occasion share that he is of Croatian and Czech descent. His sister Donna, in a Vecernji List interview, talked more about her Croatian roots. It’s interesting that the Kasich name is actually Czech and his mother Ann, is the Croatian, her maiden name is Vukovich and her parents, Anton and Barbara Vukovich (her maiden name Peckovich) were both born in Croatia. Raised as a Catholic, John as a young man was an altar boy with a very serious religious focus and even thought about being a priest and his nickname for a few years was the “Pope”.
John Kasich served 16 years in the U.S. Congress and has been governor of Ohio since 2010. The Governor joked in a recent Presidential debate that if the United States did not have an open door immigration policy, earlier in the 20th century, then he would be running for President of Croatia now. The Republican Ohio Governor has stood out for being the most positive candidate in the Republican race and the one showing more of a compassionate conservative approach to government policies. A favorite line of his recently is that, ” I will not take the low road to win the highest office in the land.” Kasich interviewed by CNN after his big victory Tuesday night was announced stated proudly, “we all are very happy that my message of balancing budgets, cutting taxes and creating jobs and leaving no one behind is catching on.”
Sadly, the Croatian American’s parents were killed by a drunken driver in 1987. This personal tragedy had a huge impact on the Congressman and over the next few years, he went through a serious spiritual renewal and a conversion to the Anglican faith.
Kasich lives in Columbus, Ohio which is the state capitol of Ohio with wife Karen and his twin 16 year old daughters.
Lastly, this Ohio victory, is his first state primary campaign win in 2016 and the billionaire candidate Donald Trump remains the heavy favorite to win the Republican nomination. The question still looms, can John Kasich raise the campaign funds needed to be competitive to win upcoming states like Arizona and New York. However, John Kasich from McKees Rock, Pennsylvania has accomplished something that no other Croatian American ever did and he is not ready to concede that this presidential race is over for him, anytime soon.