Vets’ raffle backers to make Kasich pick

COLUMBUS (AP) – A coalition of Ohio veterans and fraternal organizations that has clashed with Republican Gov. John Kasich over electronic raffle machines is planning its first-ever endorsement in a governor’s race.

The Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition, representing posts and lodges with about 2.1 million members, has scheduled candidate interviews for the first time in its 11-year history, The Columbus Dispatch reported Monday.

The endorsement meetings come as Kasich seeks re-election in November against Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive.

The coalition is involved in a long-running dispute over machines declared illegal last year by Attorney General Mike DeWine.

DeWine, also a Republican, initially delayed enforcement against the slots-like machines as the coalition pursued legislation making them legal. The bill died after Kasich intervened and proposed alternative, legal technology developed through the Ohio Lottery.

Coalition Chairman Bill Seagraves said member organizations are pursuing the endorsement and gathering signatures aimed at getting a measure on Ohio’s statewide ballot to legalize their machines. Individual veterans’ posts may protest at Kasich campaign events.