Kasich’s Relationship with Ohio Jews Go Way Back

Brad Kastan, a prominent Jewish leader in Columbus, Ohio, spoke with Jewish Insider about his relationship with and support of Republican presidential candidate John Kasich.

In a phone conversation with Jewish Insider on Wednesday, Kastan, a money manager and veteran in the financial services industry, said he and Kasich have been friends since they met at Ohio State University in the ’70s, and that he’s helped Kasich with every campaign since the governor’s successful 1982 run for Congress.

In fact, Kastan said, many of Kasich’s relationships with major Jewish families (Meltons, Schottensteins, Wexners, Ratners, etc.) go back to that 1982 run, in which he defeated incumbent Democrat (and Jew) Bob Shamansky.

“Like any other friendship, he’s been to my kids’ Bar Mitzvahs. My wife and I were at his wedding,” Kastan said about his friendship with Kasich.

Kasich has also maintained a very close relationship with many in the Jewish community. “John gave the eulogy at Gordie’s (Gordon Zacks) funeral,” Kastan said. “Gordie met John when he ran for Congress the first time. Several Jews in Columbus got behind John’s campaign against this incumbent Democrat. Part of that was taking John to Israel, where he met with leadership. I don’t know this but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his first trip out of the country.”

Kasich recently told Jewish Insider that he would consider Israel as one of his first countries that he would travel to in the first 100 days of his presidency.

“It is safe to say that John is the only presidential candidate who has met with [Yitzhak] Shamir, [Yitzhak] Rabin, [Shimon] Peres, [Ehud] Barak, and, of course, Netanyahu,” he stated. “In fact, this past year, Governor Kasich cleared his schedule to stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu on the floor of the Congress in opposition to the reckless Iranian nuclear deal.”

Kastan publically announced his support for Kasich presidential bid ahead of the Ohio Republican primary next Tuesday. “As a proud Republican and a committed Jew, I want to see our next president be someone who understands and respects the interests of the Jewish community and has a strong record of support for the State of Israel,” said Kastan. “As a father, an Ohioan and American, I want our next president to be someone with a strong command of national security issues who can hit the ground running on Day One as Commander-in-Chief. Both of these priorities come together in John Kasich.”

“I think his most realistic path to the nomination,” he asserted. “First of all, he’s got to hopefully win Ohio next week, and I think we have got to get to an open convention. Trump keeps apparently getting a third to a little bit more than a third of the delegates, but two-thirds aren’t going his way. Either people drop out and that accrues to us or we get an open convention.”

Kastan has been helping Kasich for a while. “I’ve been traveling around the country doing surrogate work on my own, speaking to Jewish groups and assisting him on the money side,” he said. “Because it’s a small group of people in Columbus involved with this, it’s fair to say I’ve had input with finance strategy and with debate strategy. I introduced him at the RJC event in Washington in November, and have helped advise on his Israel and the Middle East papers and positions.”

According to Kastan, Kasich regularly consults with Richard V. Allen, as well as with former military officials in Egypt and Turkey on issues related to the Middle East. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky is also considered a friend.

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