John Kasich

official photo of John Kasich c. 2011, Office of Ohio Governor

Birth Name: John Richard Kasich

Place of Birth: McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Date of Birth: May 13, 1952

Ethnicity:
*Rusyn or Czech (father)
*Croatian (mother)

John Kasich is an American politician. A Republican, he served as Governor of Ohio, from January 10, 2011 to January 14, 2019. He was previously a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio, from January 3, 1983 to January 3, 2001, and Chairman of the House Budget Committee, from January 3, 1995 to January 3, 2001.

He was a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2000 and 2016.

While he was not on the ballot, he received an electoral vote for President from a faithless elector in the 2016 presidential election.

John is the son of Anne B. (Vukovich) and John Kasich. His grandparents were all immigrants. He is married to business executive Karen Waldbillig Kasich, with whom he has two children.

His paternal grandparents are sometimes described as Czech, but were likely ethnic Rusyns.

John’s paternal grandfather was named Vasil/Karol/Charles/Charley Kasich. Vasil was born in Husnŷj, Ung County, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and now in Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukraine.

John’s paternal grandmother was named Jevka/Eva/Eve Leikan/Lukan. Jevka was born in Suchŷj, Ung County.

John’s maternal grandfather was Anton/Anthony Vuković/Vukovich (the son of Dubovick Vukovich and Mondei Lublouna). Anton was Croatian, and was born in Stajnica.

John’s maternal grandmother was named Barbara Peckovich/Perkovich. Barbara was Croatian.

John is one of four people of significant Slavic ancestry to have won a major American political party’s Presidential caucus and/or primary. He won 1 state in 2016, Ohio. The other three people are:
*Harold Stassen (Republican; in 1944, he won 1 state, Nebraska; in 1948, he won 4 states; in 1952, he won 1 state, Minnesota; Stassen also sought the 1964, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Republican nominations; Stassen’s paternal grandmother was Czech)
*Edmund Muskie (1972; Democratic; won 4 states; Muskie was previously the 1968 Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States; he was of Polish descent)
*Tom Harkin (1992; Democratic; won 1 state, Iowa; Harkin’s mother was of Slovene descent)

Other people of significant Slavic ancestry who have mounted plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*George H. Bender (who sought the 1960 Republican nomination; Bender was of Czech descent)
*James Traficant (who sought the 1988 Democratic nomination; Traficant’s mother was of Slovak descent)
*Dennis Kucinich (who sought the 2004 and 2008 Democratic nominations; Kucinich’s father was of Croatian descent)
*Gary Johnson (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination, and was the Libertarian Party’s 2012 and 2016 nominee for President of the United States; Johnson’s mother was of Ukrainian descent)
*Tim Pawlenty (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination; Pawlenty’s father was of Polish descent)
*Amy Klobuchar (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Klobuchar’s father is of Slovenian descent)
*Joe Sestak (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Sestak’s father was of Slovak descent)

Sources: Genealogy of John Kasich – https://www.geni.com

John’s mother on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Article discussing John’s likely Rusyn ancestry – http://rusynsofpa.blogspot.ca

33 Responses

  1. madman says:

    “Ung County, Hungary, which was part of the Czechoslovak Republic in the 1920s.”

    This is a little misleading. Ung Country doesn’t exist anymore, and is also not primarily located in present-day Hungary; the two villages are both in what is today Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukraine. Austria-Hungary would be more accurate, since that was the country his grandparents were born in.

    Husnŷj and Suchŷj (or Husnyi and Sukhyi) are also located right in the Rusyn heartland. The only reason why Kasich thought that his grandparents were Czech is probably because Zakarpattia became part of Czechoslovakia upon their independence. One could doubt if they were Rusyn or not (although they very likely were), but they clearly wasn’t Czech. As Oaken said, it’s way too far east.

  2. Oaken05 says:

    Yes, it is VERY unlikely that his paternal grandparents were Czechs. The only Slavs in this area were the Rusyns who lived in the mountains where this town was, and the Hugarians who lived on the flatlands to the southwest.

    It’d have been highly unusual to find a Czech this far southeast. You’d sooner find a Slovak or even German than you would have found a Czech in Ung County.

    • andrew says:

      It’s not politically “sexy” to claim Rusyn ancestry.

      • Oaken05 says:

        More than that, their neighbors simply view them as Ukrainians who happen to live in the mountains of that region. And, really, I don’t disagree. As far as I can tell, Rusyns/Ruthenians are ethnic Ukrainians who reject because of their relative independence living in the mountains the Ukrainian identity. Their language is just a dialetc of Ukrainian.

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