Yielding To Progressive Pressure, Gov. Kasich Appoints First Minority Cabinet Member

Fleshing out his “new way,” Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) offered Ohio the first all-white cabinet since 1962. As ThinkProgress reported last week, Kasich bluntly rebuked a black lawmaker’s offer to find qualified minority candidates, telling her “I don’t need your people.” This remark embroiled Kasich in a raging controversy over his indifference towards diversity. In an “obvious attempt to quell the criticism” yesterday, Kasich touted the appointment of Lynn Stevens to Director of Minority Affairs. But as ThinkProgress noted, not only is the position not cabinet-level but Stevens had been serving in that position for a month. Today, Kasich finally yielded to the “intense criticism” and made the actual first minority appointment to his cabinet by tapping Michael B. Colbert to head the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services:

With only three posts left to fill on what had been an all-white cabinet, Gov. John Kasich today made his first minority appointment, naming Michael B. Colbert to head the giant Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Colbert, who is black, had been serving as interim director of the department since Jan. 9, when the former director, Douglas E. Lumpkin, stepped down a day before Kasich’s inauguration.

It’s welcome news that Kasich has finally come around to embracing a more diverse cabinet. While he was not angling for an all-white cabinet, some lawmakers still question his commitment. State Rep. W. Carlton Weddington (D) recently filed a public records request to determine the level of diversity among Kasich’s top hires to see if Kasich’s embrace of diversity extends beyond one appointment.


As Plunderbund notes, Kasich “insisted that his in now way was a sign of him bowing to political pressure.” “Michael didn’t get this job because of his race.” Kasich said. “I’m excited that he happens to be an African-American, but he didn’t get it because of that.”

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