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Ohio governor's trash talk puts Ind. in spotlight

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 8:33 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich thinks Cincinnati is a "cool, happening place." Indiana? Apparently, not so much, at least according to the shot he took at his neighbor to the west last week.

"This is not Indiana where you go to Indianapolis . and then say, 'Where else are we going to go? Gary?'" he told a crowd of Ohio Republicans while deflecting criticism about his choice to expand Medicaid.

Trash talk isn't just something found in sports. Taking a dig at neighboring states is a time-honored political tradition around the nation.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley spent the 2012 campaign season blasting Republicans as the head of the Democratic Governors Association while Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell dished it right back as the head of the Republican Governors Association. They both found room in the national spotlight to poke at each other, with O'Malley knocking McDonnell for seeking transvaginal ultrasound legislation and McDonnell firing back on O'Malley's many tax hikes.

Those grenades sailed north and south across the Potomac River, but when it comes to gubernatorial knocks in the Heartland, they seem to start east and hit west.

Kasich's dig last week wasn't the first time he has questioned how "cool" or "happening" Indiana is. And former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels had plenty of fun ripping on Illinois during his eight years in the Indiana Statehouse.

Shortly after former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to prison for attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama, Daniels joked that officials should build an "Illinois Governors' Wing" at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute where former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was already serving a 6 -year sentence.

And when Illinois lawmakers approved a corporate tax hike in 2011, Daniels went on a conservative Chicago radio show and said that living next to Illinois "is like living next door to 'The Simpsons,' you know, the dysfunctional family down the block."

Why can't they all just get along?

Former Indiana House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer, who's reveling in the thought of prominent Republican governors banging heads, thinks it might have something to do with divisions within the GOP. He speculated Kasich might have a chip on his shoulder about signing off on the Medicaid expansion and is looking for some political cover from other Republican governors. Gov. Mike Pence wants the federal government to allow the state to use its Healthy Indiana Plan to provide health care to the poor.

"Maybe he's irked at that. You know, 'Look, we're all going to take this and you're the holdout,'" Bauer said of Kasich.

Bauer, a 43-year veteran of the General Assembly, said he couldn't think of any other time when Indiana's governors have traded so many jabs with the neighbors.

"I can't remember, not since the Civil War anyway," he said.

Pence didn't exactly knock Kasich back on his heels with his response last week, but he used the chance to get a little press.

"Indiana is the best state in the Midwest to start a business, grow a business and get a job," Pence said. "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."

Pence's style might be flat, but he didn't need snark: His staff circulated an Ohio blogger's observation that while Kasich was trash-talking Indiana, Cincinnati trucking company YRC was moving 279 jobs across the Ohio River to Indiana.

Who's cool now?