Ohio governor defends administration over lack of minorities

COLUMBUS, Ohio Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:07pm EST

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich (R-OH) speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in Zanesville, Ohio, August 4, 2010. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich (R-OH) speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in Zanesville, Ohio, August 4, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Matt Sullivan

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Ohio Governor John Kasich defended himself on Friday against criticism from black Ohio lawmakers that he hadn't named any racial minorities to his cabinet, saying two prospects he had asked had refused.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the new Republican administration approached two African-Americans for two positions, but they "passed on the opportunity."

"The over-arching philosophy of the administration is that Ohio needs the best and brightest and also needs people who share the governor's vision for cutting taxes to make Ohio more economically competitive," said Nichols.

He added that the office will continue to try to "make the cabinet as diverse as possible."

In a statement Thursday, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus criticized Republicans in both the Kasich administration and the state's legislature for failing to place minorities in key positions.

"It is feeling more like 1811 and not 2011 in the state of Ohio," said Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), in a statement. She said that other Republican administrations in recent Ohio history had diverse cabinets.

The Caucus wrote that the last Ohio governor with no minorities in his cabinet was Gov. Michael DiSalle in 1962.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Reporting by Jim Leckrone in Columbus; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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