COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. John Kasich has set the date for his annual State of the State speech after a set of crucial primaries he faces as a Republican presidential contender.
Kasich’s spokesman said Tuesday he’ll give the address April 6 at Peoples Bank Theatre in historic Marietta, along the Ohio River in southern Ohio. It’s the fifth consecutive year he will deliver the speech outside the Statehouse in Columbus.
“It is only fitting that Ohio’s first city – and the front door to our nation’s new frontier – host a legislative session as part of our annual State of the State address,” spokesman Joe Andrews said.
Kasich made history in 2012 by taking the event on the road for the first time in recent state history with a speech in eastern Ohio’s Steubenville. He’s since taken it to Lima in western Ohio, Medina in northeast Ohio and Wilmington in the southwest.
This year’s speech is much later than usual. It’s set to take place after Super Tuesday primaries are held in numerous states on March 1 and after Ohio’s primary March 15.
By April, Kasich’s presidential bid could be over – or the speech could provide crucial press attention on the day it’s delivered and in the weeks afterward as its policy consequences are hashed out among state legislators and pundits. Bordering Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana hold their primaries in May or June.
Kasich, a second-term governor and former congressman, was thought to hold a home-court advantage in the Ohio primary, but it looks to be anything but a given.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday showed Republican front-runner Donald Trump favored by 31 percent of likely Republican primary voters, compared to Kasich’s 26 percent. Twenty-one percent favor Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and 13 percent said they’d vote for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Neurologist Ben Carson was a distant fifth. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
The governor’s State of the State speech is delivered to a joint legislative session of both the House and Senate, with Supreme Court justices, Cabinet officials and statewide officeholders often in attendance. Their presence has been less uniform since the speech left Columbus.
Before 2012, the Ohio General Assembly last convened a joint session outside Columbus in 2003, when lawmakers traveled to the first state capital, Chillicothe, to celebrate the state’s bicentennial. The time before that was in the 1950s.
The 657-seat Peoples Bank Theatre, formerly the Hippodrome, has been a vaudeville house, a movie house and a theater stage. Numerous entertainers who have performed there, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Jimmy Stewart, Tex Ritter, Boris Karloff and Ernest Tubb.