The Suburban Women Problem

Wine with the Weinsteins (with Casey Weinstein)

December 14, 2022 Red Wine & Blue Season 2 Episode 50
The Suburban Women Problem
Wine with the Weinsteins (with Casey Weinstein)
Show Notes Transcript

This week, Amanda Weinstein is joined by her husband Casey! Casey is a state rep in Ohio and was just re-elected in last month’s midterms. He and Amanda chat about what it’s like to run for office… and what it’s like to have a family member run for office. Tune in to hear what one thing Amanda requested when Casey told her that he was considering running for office, what it was like to meet one of his trolls, the anti-semitism he's unfortunately had to deal with, and why Amanda thinks that suburban women in particular have supported his campaign.

For a transcript of this episode, please email theswppod@redwine.blue.


For a transcript of this episode, please email theswppod@redwine.blue.

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The Suburban Women Problem - Season 2, Episode 50

Amanda: Hi everyone, and thanks for listening to The Suburban Women Problem. I'm Amanda Weinstein and this holiday season we're doing the podcast a little differently. For the rest of the year, my co-hosts and I will be taking turns going deep on what we learned from the midterms. There are so many victories to celebrate and so many lessons to learn. Today I'm joined by… my husband Casey!

Casey: Hi! 

Amanda: Just in case listeners don't know, you're currently a state representative here in Ohio, and you were just reelected last month. So we wanted to have you on the podcast to talk about what it's like to run for office and what it's like to have a spouse or a family member run for office. 

So why did you decide to run for office and do you remember what my response was when you first told me about it?

Casey: Well, so I got out of the military, we got out of the military at the same time, and I immediately was looking for ways to to get involved. And yeah, I just kind of think I missed that structure and that service. And you know, that was so a part of my upbringing. My dad served in the White House–

Amanda: The Reagan White House!

Casey: The Reagan White House, yep. And so I was, I had proximity to the government and to, you know, the highest levels of it. And I've always viewed it as, you know, whether you're serving in the military or serving in your community, incredibly important to give back. So I was seeking those positions right away.

But you know, ultimately it was a city council opening in 2015, and I got the paper, I remember we were standing by the island and I said, “oh, well the mayor is not running for reelection and our council person's gonna run for mayor. So that's an open seat. For our council ward seat.” And there was just this silence. And it was kind of like that… I think that was it. I don't think I actually asked. I'm like, there's an open seat, and I guess then it happened. I don't know, did I ask? 

Amanda: No, you did. Well, we had a newborn. 

Casey: Oh yeah, we did. Nora. 

Amanda: So our oldest child was fresh, fresh out the womb. And he was like, “Hey, do you mind if I'm like, you know, knocking on every door in the ward over the summer instead of home with you and our newborn?” And I was like, “Well, that's okay, but…” remember I asked you for something. 

Casey: Oh. Yes! A splash pad. 

Amanda: Yeah. I wanted a splash pad. Yeah. So I asked for a splash pad. 

Casey: “You better get me a splash pad,” I believe were the exact words.  

Amanda: You did get me a splash pad for our community. And you were like, the first thing, you saw our city manager and said, “Look, my wife really wants a splash pad. What can we do?” And she knew exactly who to go to, who to ask. We asked Kiwanis, they got some money, and Parks came in. We now have a splash pad in our community.

Casey: Well, it was a great thing to campaign on. Parks enhancements are fantastic. They're bipartisan. Everybody wants to see that very real, tangible investment in their community, things that they can see in touch, that they can experience, whether you got kids, grandkids, whatever. So it ended up being a great part of my campaign actually. 

Amanda: And at the time, all the city council members were Republicans. So nobody even had any idea there'd be a Democrat running for office. I don't even think they asked you most of the time. I mean, you snuck in there.

Casey: No, it's nonpartisan. I was the only registered Democrat there. But yeah, I definitely talked more about my military background and you know, just wanting to do things like funding first responders and connectivity through the community and parks. Parks, parks, parks. So it's kind of your fault that I won because you made that a central part of my campaign, so–

Amanda: That's true.

Casey: Yeah. You ever think about that? 

Amanda: Yeah. I mean, I later did research that said women really like parks. And I'm like, that is true. People like parks. I do really like parks.

Casey: Everyone likes parks. 

Amanda: And we did get that splash pad done. 

Casey: Yeah, we got it. And our kids go to it. It's pretty cool. 

Amanda: Alright, so what has been meaningful and great about being in office and running? And what's stressful and difficult about running for office? 

Casey: Meaningful and great… I've actually, I feel like I've actually been able to get some things done that go back to my original campaign promises of investment in communities and great schools and the environment. So we did a bipartisan bill to fund public schools at the highest level they've historically ever been funded at in Ohio. We've had unconstitutional school funding for decades and decades and decades, and finally we delivered on that. So that was really gratifying. 

And then, on the environmental side, I got to work on the H2Ohio program which is a historic investment in clean water. This district where we live, that I represent, is in the Lake Erie watershed. So because we have a Great Lake–

Amanda: We do have a Great Lake. Some people don't know that.

Casey: We do. Some people would say it's a good lake that we need to make great. And it is, it's a great lake, but I, we have to keep investing in it to keep it great. So that has been really gratifying too. 

And then I’ve gotten some bills passed. Probably the singular moment I go to is when I went back to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, where you and I served, in Dayton, Ohio. And I had a military families bill that we signed into law there. So that was a really cool moment.  So at a high level it's just, I feel like I've been able to get things done. So that makes it all worth it, in terms of all the negatives.

Amanda: So my favorite part about campaigning, though, is I actually like, I feel like I should not tell you this, but I do really like the events we get to go to. And eventually you start to meet like a lot of your supporters and they become regular friends and you go and say, “hi, how you doing?” And even, you know, other people elected to office, you get to see them more often and it becomes like this little group of friends and family and that is really fun. Except for it's like friends and family, but instead of like Thanksgiving where like the crazy uncle is saying crazy things, it’s the fun uncle who is always gonna say something you totally agree with. 

Casey: That's funny. On that note, campaigning is actually overwhelmingly positive. It's a tremendously positive experience getting to do so many neat things that bring you closer to the community. Even the forums, I love those. 

Amanda: There's a lot of parties.

Casey: There are. There's a lot of parties, there's a lot of social events. There's a lot of really neat things that you get to do to interact with the community, and that is a really special part of it.  

Amanda:Yeah, your wine with Weinstein event was huge this year. 

Casey: Yeah, yeah. 

Amanda: Turns out people like to drink wine with you.

Casey: People were ready to drink wine. Yeah. We had really successful in-person events, which was great because we didn't do them in 2020. So yeah, I didn't knock on doors in 2020 and I actually kind of missed that. So coming back to the doors this time and seeing how people kind of knew who I was for the first time ever while running was really interesting. Over these years they've gotten to know me a little better as I've gotten to know them. So that was positive too. 

Amanda: Alright, so speaking of the worst part and doors… you actually met a troll of yours. 

Casey: I did at one of the doors. I did. I did. Yeah. Never go outside your targets when knocking out the doors. So we have pretty wide targets. We'll knock on Democratic doors, Independents, and some Republicans too. But some folks are just outside of probably the range of folks who would not be worth your time. 

But this guy was walking to his car as I was walking by his house, so I was like, “oh, whatever. Let's say hi.” And I said “Hi,” and he said, “I know who you are. Yeah, I'm one of your trolls. I'm one of your anonymous trolls. I'm PaleoRage.”

Amanda: Not so anonymous now. 

Casey: Yeah, he really is one of my trolls. He's, his icon is a piece of meat and he's, he's PaleoRage. And he confronted me about something he thought I was lying about, and I was able to pull up my phone in the moment and say, “Nope.” 

Amanda: So what did he think you were lying about?

Casey: That I was invited by the Western Reserve Academy Young Republicans to go speak there, and he thought that was inconceivable, that a Young Republicans group would invite a Democrat and that I would go.

Amanda: He couldn't imagine that a Republican group would want you to speak instead of a Republican.

Casey: So, and I went and it was great, and I posted about it and, and he said, “That wasn't the young Republicans, that was the Democrats who invited you.” I'm like, “Nope. It was the young Republicans. And I've got the, I've got the invitation right here.” And he said, “Oh, you've got receipts?” And I said, “Yes, I do!” 

So I showed him and he, to his credit, put out a clarifying tweet. He said, “well, I'll set the record straight on that.” And I thought we had a little breakthrough together. But then the next morning he fired off about 15 tweets, hate tweets. 

Amanda: It was like the Christmas Armistice that lasted like 12 hours. It was just that night. 

Casey: Yeah, just that night.

Amanda: So the trolls have to be among the worst of campaigning.

Casey: Absolutely. Yeah. Terrible. I mean, I, I'm somebody who's like a people pleaser and I want everybody to, you know, I want people to like me. But the misinformation, you know, it's wild. And then they've started going after you and then they started talking about our kids and it's just disgusting and nasty. So that part of it, yeah, definitely negative. 

Amanda: That is true. Your first campaign manager warned me like, “Look.” He was like, “Let's have a conversation. Let's sit down. I need to have a serious conversation with you.” I was like, “Uh-oh.” And he was like, “They're gonna say mean things about your husband.” And I was like, “I know, I do it too sometimes.” 

Casey: That was not gonna be a problem for you. 

Amanda: And he was like, “What?” And I was like, “Oh yeah, I bet I'm way better at it.” At least what I say, I think, is true. Like they say just completely off the wall stuff.

Casey: I mean, they've said some horrible, horrible stuff. 

Amanda: That's true. I don't say horrible things. 

Casey: You don't. No, and I'm not gonna repeat what they say. But it's really, really terrible.

Amanda: But the kids is worse. He did not mention that. He didn't say, like, “Hey, they're gonna go after your kids.” That, yeah, I can't help it. Then I'm like, “I'm gonna go Mama Bear. I'm gonna try and end you somehow.” 

Casey: Yeah. Listen, like I got invited by the White House to come celebrate the first ever Roshana Jewish New Year in White House history there and yeah, that was very cool. They said I could bring a plus one and I brought our daughter and they started attacking her for being an entitled little child. And I'm like, oh my God. I mean, just– 

Amanda: There aren't a lot of events for Jewish kids to really be celebrating who they are because they're in the minority. So it is really cool to get to go to someplace like the White House and celebrate your Jewish heritage. 

Casey: Yeah. And it was an incredibly special little trip that I got to take her on. And she was wonderful and perfect and, and you know, so it's just disgusting that people stoop to that. But 99.9% of voters realize that, and it, that kind of negativity ends up backfiring on them. 

Amanda: I know, that's true. A lot of them really would like to tell us how to parent our children. But she's actually doing great at school, so taking her away for a trip to the White House was totally fine. Okay. But thank you for your concern about the one day of school that she missed. 

So speaking of your Jewishness and some of the fun that comes with that, we actually had protestors at our house. Which is interesting because in our state, in terms of big, like elected, you know, statewide elected officials and local officials, I know protestors have gone to Governor Dewine's house, Amy Atkin's, and our house. And that's about it. 

Amanda: Mostly just the Jews. Two out of three of those, Jewish.

Casey: Yeah. Fairly specifically anti-Semitic, so, yeah. 

Amanda: Yeah. So why do you say they're anti-Semitic? 

Casey: Because they, first of all, it was, it was this “church.”

Amanda: We found out. Someone told us.

Casey: Yeah, I'm doing air quotes. Because it was, it's more like this militant group that lives, that's in my district that occasionally uses Bible verses to justify whatever political thing they want. 

Amanda: Yeah, they're mostly political. 

Casey: And so that, therefore, I think that inherently added a religious aspect to it. Secondly, they brought the Kneel for the Cross flag, which I've seen over the years. Which is a clear message for a Jewish person. And then just the whole intimidation… they came right after church, they talked about it and then they rolled over to our house. I mean, there were dozens of cars, trucks I mean, down the road, and then they were all just massing in front of our house.  

Amanda: And what was really gross, they were like… so our kids, we shut the curtains and our kids were upstairs and they were like old men waving at our little girls in their bedroom windows. Like, that's just creepy. 

Casey: Yeah. Yeah. And just strutting along the property line, blocking traffic to our home. I mean, you know, it's just, I'm out there for sure on social media more than most, but it's just every, every campaign religion comes into it. It was a clear message to me what they were trying to say. Stay in your place. 

Amanda: You heard it came up at the doors your opponent knocked on too. From a pastor. 

Casey: Yeah, my opponent went on… what one of our voters who is a pastor, described as an “anti-Semitic rant.”

Amanda: Against you? 

Casey: Against me, yeah. Yep. So yeah, I mean, it's there. It's always just below the surface and when things get a little bit heated, it comes out. 

Amanda: I know. So do you think it's worse in Ohio than other places or similar?

Casey: That's a really good question. I think it's similar. I've always felt that sense of otherness wherever I've lived, just to different degrees. I mean, in high school, in New Mexico, you know, some kids unfortunately… you know, I had dealt with it in high school. I dealt with it in Colorado at the Air Force Academy, and I've dealt with it here and we dealt with it in Northern Virginia where we lived. So, I mean, I've lived all over. And you know, I think it is just always there beneath the surface. 

And what is different now is that the leader of the Republican party, the immediate past president who's running again for president, has given them permission, complete permission with acquiescence from the rest of the party leadership, to come out and be their worst selves. And just to let it fly, and that there wouldn't be any serious consequences for it, and that that's acceptable and it's not condemned in any resolute way either by the party, so they feel permission to do it.  

Amanda: I mean, it's been strange for me as a Christian because I… I don't know. You're taught about anti-Semitism in school, like the Holocaust, right? I learned about that. That was a while ago. That's not now. So I never quite realized it was under the surface as much as being married to you and seeing it, and then even when you're talking about chanting, like, “Jew will not replace us”... like that's also talking about our four-year old. And our five-year-old. And our eight-year-old. Like they're that intimidated by our four-year-old that they need to go take to the streets?

Casey: I mean, our five year old I get, but not– 

Amanda: That's true. She's more intimidating I think. But the others… 

Casey: Yeah. Right. But no, no, I didn't mean to make light of that because yeah. It's our kids and you, you worry, you just worry about that. I mean, we have security guards at services, you know, and that just gets you thinking.

Amanda: So, I mean, so another kind of worst thing, you've had more interaction with the FBI than other elected members. Because people from all around the country seek you out. 

Casey: Mm-hmm. Missouri. Yeah. Yeah. Guy sent a threat and the local FBI office had asked me to forward those when they come in and I forwarded it and they ended up going to the guy's house.

Amanda: In Missouri.

Casey: Yep. And confronting him with it. I guess he said something to the effect of, “Well, that doesn't sound like something I would normally say.” I'm like, “ehhh…”

Amanda: But he did stop saying it after that. After the FBI showed up at his house. Most likely, right, nothing will probably happen, but there's a small chance something could happen. We've seen that happen even with, you know, Nancy Pelosi's house, that there is a chance that something could happen. And that's the point. They want to intimidate you.

Casey: Yeah. The thing at our house was a game changer for me in terms of just the, you know, our kids were here, it was a Sunday, I was just watching a movie with the kids on the couch and you're, you know, I'll never forget that moment when you came down and told me what was going on in front of our house. It was shocking. 

Amanda: It was, it was shocking. Still. Like, are you really at our house right now? And you're in the super minority. If you really want something done, go to like your own people in the majority and get something done. But that was the point. They didn't actually want anything done. When our neighbor asked them, they just really were there to let you know they don't like you. 

All right, so what is going on with Ohio? So you won, in what our newspapers were calling “the most competitive race in the state,” but there were a lot of other races that didn't win in Ohio. The down ballot in terms of the state House and state Senate didn't do so well this election. So what's going on with that?

Casey: So we're at a point where we are a structural minority in the state House. And what I mean by that is the GOP MAGAs are the agents in the Matrix. They are guarding all the exits. They hold all the keys. 

Amanda: Yeah. And actually, they've drawn a majority. They've drawn a super majority.

Casey: They've drawn themselves a super majority. Yeah. The maps, in a lot of ways, the way that they're drawn is destiny in a lot of ways. They have more money, they have more incumbents, so they have these structural advantages that come into play. And they know that, so they will ignore the rules or rewrite the rules or straight up, you know, ignore the constitution and the will of the voters because they're able to draw themselves into safety. And from that position of power that they've been in since 2010, they have solidified a majority. 

So that's the, that's just the playing ground. So when we start going into an election, you gotta look at us as the Zips, who we love, going to the Horseshoe at Ohio State and playing a game at night away as like, that's the election that the Democrats start with. And there's just structural differences between those two teams that make it very likely that Ohio State's gonna win that game. Not counting our Zips out ever. And I love both teams just to be clear. But anyways, that's, that's a real challenge. They're–

Amanda: They're an underdog. Yeah, we're an underdog here. And we’ve got a lot of fight. And you have to have the fight. And I think that's part of why you win. You're a fighter. 

Casey: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thank you. And I, and there are relatively few who want to take it to the level that I do, which unfortunately could lead to you getting on the maps or radars of really bad people who bring it to your house. So, you know, yeah. There's that. And then there, there's a two-part equation in Ohio. There's, you know, turning out the cities and there's not getting killed in some of the traditionally red rural areas. And we haven't quite been able to put those two things together. 

Amanda: So you do very well in your suburban district, and I think you do especially well with suburban women.

Casey: Oh! 

Amanda: Why is that? 

Casey: I do feel that I have a pretty good pulse of the concerns and interests of the people in my district, and when it comes to schools, we are pro-teacher, we are pro-public education, we are pro-science and pro-history being taught in schools. We're pro-book. And those are pretty basic positions for me to be able to take, but I feel like the median voter in my district really supports those things. 

Amanda: I mean, I think an important point there is when you heard people were talking about banning books and CRT in our school district, you didn't say, “oh, I shouldn't talk about this. This is controversial.” You did the opposite. You said, “You know what, there are people, there are women who are concerned about this. Let's have this conversation.” And you came out and talked about it immediately. 

Casey: Well, so I was thinking, you're telling me that now I get to say over and over again that I'm pro-teacher, pro-school and pro-book?

Amanda: I know that's an easy sell to women with children in school.

Casey: And that suddenly became an issue that there were two sides of. I'm like, “No, no. I'm for the books. I'm for the teachers, I'm for the schools. Here's my record for it.” But also for LGBT rights, I feel like the median voter in my district has no issue with expansions and protections for the LGBT community. So I talk about that. I talk about gun safety and gun reform. I talk about environmental issues. I talk about investing in our communities and keeping them safe and really special places where families want to grow and thrive. 

Amanda: You talk a lot about families. I mean, so there's a lot about families inherently because like you are a dad, you have kids, you care a lot about families, and you talk about, you know, let's do things for families.

Casey: Yeah. And I mean, I never want to cede that pro-family lane in politics because I am for quality education and support for parents and parental leave and healthcare and supporting moms, nursing moms. I'm gonna be working on a bill with protections for moms in the workplace. New moms. 

Amanda: Nice.

Casey: And so, you know, you and I having three young kids, we've, we've been living this, the challenge. Even though we're lucky enough to be in a financially sound position, still, it's been financially challenging for us. So I feel like that's, a lot of voters can relate to that and a lot of voters are dealing with things that you and I have dealt with, so, yeah. I talk about them. 

I tell my voters, “you may not always agree with me, but you will always know where I stand on the issues.” And so people, even if they disagree on some things, I've heard many, many people talk about “well, we know you're gonna show up and we know where you stand on the issues.”

Amanda: Yeah. And you know, even though the kind of down ballot got worse, the state Senate and State House, we still have candidates like Greg Landsman and Emelia Sykes who each had, you know, about an 18% chance of winning and they both won. And Greg Landsman won against a long time Republican incumbent. Talking about families!

Casey: Yep. Yep. That's really thrilling, especially to have Emelia Sykes, who's a very close friend and a political mentor of mine, to be our congresswoman, so. Very, very exciting.

Amanda: She's awesome. She actually came to Hudson to talk to our kids and ask them what they were concerned about. And I know a lot of the moms in Hudson really loved that.

Casey: And by the way, these suburbs where they're winning are some of the fastest growing places in the state. So there very much is a realignment, but there's also a lot of opportunity for Democrats in Ohio when you're on the right message. And getting it out effectively. 

Amanda: Yep. Alright, so as you know, at the end of every episode, we do a Toast to Joy where we share something positive that happened in our week and in these four weeks of special episodes, we want to broaden things out a little bit and do a 2022 Toast to Joy. So what was a moment or a bit of news that brought you hope and joy this year? 

Casey: So, overall, the election was a massive, massive relief for me. If you told me going into this election, and I'm talking beyond my race because as much as I love being a Rep and I really do, there's much bigger forces at play in the country. But if you told me that we would keep the Senate, Democrats would keep the Senate, and win in a lot of really key state houses where election deniers and anti-democratic forces and MAGA forces were on the march, and have just a very narrow minority in the House, I would've been blown away. I would've thought that was just an amazing, you know, achievement.

And ultimately what it means to me is there's this big coalition of just normal, patriotic– old school patriotic– Americans who just are, just want to see competent government, caring people, be able to vote, send their kids to school, have have just safe strong communities where we're investing, where we're protecting people, where we are protecting our right to vote, where we are protecting women and women's rights, and women's choice, and trying to expand access to healthcare and doing things about climate change. So many issues. 

And just this big coalition of the normal came out and I feel like, given the economic headwinds, it could have been a disaster. But it ended up being, I think, a strong signal. And it makes me feel better about the long-term trajectory of our country and, you know, the country we're raising our kids in here.  

Amanda: Oh! You're more optimistic than I thought you were gonna be.

Casey: Oh, I am, I am. I feel like, I mean, today, as we're recording today, Arizona's certifying its election and even a lot of the election deniers, almost all of them conceded their races. Secretary of State races, Attorney General races, we won. And I'm so deep into all these things. We won in so many places.  

Amanda: You are, you are in every state. You meet anyone and they'll be like, “I'm from some tiny little town in, you know, I don't know, Louisiana”. You're like, “Oh, I just heard about your….” And I'm always shocked. You always know every little state election, what's going on.

Casey: Yeah. Because I know, being in the legislature, what a big impact these can have on families' lives. The election was a massive relief to me. Yes, it could have gone better in some ways, but it was a huge relief. And of course I am honored, incredibly honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve. 

Amanda: So my Toast to Joy for this year has got to be women sharing their stories. Which you had actually a number of our friends who shot videos for you and you posted them to your page, you know, talking about their experiences, having children, having miscarriages, having pregnancies where, you know, there was no chance for the fetus to survive. Like all of the stories that so many women came out and shared. To me, that was a game changer and I am hopeful that we will continue to see women sharing their stories. 

But also I felt people listened. No one, at least not that I know of, no one questioned the women. You know, the stories of the women, our friends, you know, that you shared on your page. No one said, “is this really true?” People believed them. As they should. 

And I hope that we will see, you know, women continue to share these stories because I think it is these stories that have fundamentally changed our minds in a big way, when you look at Kansas, Kentucky, even red states, when it comes to things like reproductive rights and what our government should and should not be doing. So my toast of joy is definitely to women sharing their stories.

Casey: And that very much led to the results. Absolutely. The biggest issue that led to the results of the, you know, that we had in the election, positive results so very much mattered that they shared their stories well. 

Amanda: Casey, that is it for today. Thank you for joining the podcast. 

Casey: Thanks for having me! This was wonderful.

Amanda: And thanks to everyone for listening to the Suburban Women Problem. We'll see you again next week! 

Casey: Bye!