Karen Kasler

Bureau Chief

Credit Kristen Kasler Peters

Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.

Karen Kasler is a lifelong Ohioan. She grew up in Lancaster, attended Otterbein College in Westerville, and found her professional break at WCBE-FM, Columbus. Karen was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Master's Degree Program for Mid-Career Journalists at Ohio State University in 1994. She worked at WTVN-AM and WBNS-TV, both in Columbus - then followed eight years as afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor for WTAM-AM, Cleveland. Karen followed the demolition and rebuilding of Cleveland Browns Stadium, produced award-winning series on identity theft and the Y2K panic, covered the Republican National Convention in 2000 and the blackout of 2003, and reported annually from the Cleveland National Air Show each year, often going upside down in an aerobatic plane to do it. In 1999, she was a media witness to the execution of Wilford Berry, the first execution since Ohio re-instated capital punishment. Karen frequently reported for ABC Radio News, and in 2002 co-produced an award-winning nationally-distributed documentary on the one-year anniversary of September 11, featuring her interview with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from the West Wing of the White House.

Since returning to Columbus in 2004, Karen has covered major elections and the controversies surrounding them. She was a moderator for the gubernatorial debate in 2018 and US Senate debates in 2016, 2012, 2010 and 2006. She's also led debates on statewide issues such as drug sentencing, marijuana legalization, redistricting and the collective bargaining law known as Senate Bill 5. Each year she anchors the Bureau's live coverage of the Governor's State of the State, and has led coverage of the inaugurations of the last three governors.

She's produced features for NPR and "Marketplace", and has been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, NBC and stations around the country. She's a regular panelist on ideastream's "The Sound of Ideas", a frequent guest on WOSU-TV’s “Columbus on the Record” and has appeared on WBNS-TV's "Face the State".

Karen has been honored by the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists and holds a National Headliner Award. She's won several awards from the Ohio AP, and is a four-time winner of the AP's Best Broadcast Writing award. She's a three-time Emmy nominee for "The State of Ohio". She's a past president of the Ohio Associated Press and has served on the Board of Directors for the Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Karen is also a former adjunct professor at Capital University in Columbus.

Karen, her husband and their son Jack live on Columbus' northeast side.

A barn east of Columbus in Licking County is painted to support President Trump.
Karen Kasler

62% of rural Americans voted for Donald Trump for president four years ago, according to exit polls conducted by The New York Times. Ohio's farmland was Trumpland in 2016, and Trump is depending on a repeat of that, since no Republican has lost Ohio and still won the White House. But Democratic nominee Joe Biden is hoping to make some inroads or at least chip away at Trump's dominance in rural Ohio.

Attorney General Dave Yost announcing the results of Operation Autumn Hope at a press conference at the Statehouse.
Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Around 50 law enforcement agencies have arrested 177 people and found 109 survivors in what’s considered the largest human trafficking sting ever in Ohio.  

Dan Konik

As always, the Ohio ballot features the presidential and Congressional races at the top, and next up are those for the state legislature. The entire Ohio House and half the Senate, both of which are controlled by Republicans, are up this year, as the presidential race is close.

A sign in a restaurant in Columbus
Karen Kasler

As Ohio hit another record in both coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Mike DeWine and a group of Republican state lawmakers announced how the state will distribute more than $420 million in federal CARES Act funding to people, operations and groups affected by the pandemic.

The blue absentee ballot packet features a red envelope to return the ballot in.
Karen Kasler

With less than two weeks left in early voting, 16 Ohio counties are recovering from delays in getting absentee ballots to voters because of a problem with an outside vendor.

President Trump and Joe Biden in a screenshot from the debate in Cleveland on September 29.
Screenshot, PBS NewsHour

The campaign ad war between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden and groups that support them has been fairly even in Ohio.  But the final stretch shows the candidates are changing their spending plans for this state.

A sign describing COVID-19 symptoms is displayed in the lobby of a building on the campus of Grant Medical Center in downtown Columbus.
Karen Kasler

Ohio hit a new record of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 today, topping the high numbers of hospitalizations set in July.

Some demonstrators at an anti-mask rally at the Statehouse in July. Event planners said security would be provided by "militia". Proud Boys are often identified by black collared polo shirts with yellow stripes on the sleeves.
Karen Kasler

Federal authorities have charged more than a dozen men with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the government. And the feds say that group did some of its planning this summer in Ohio, where extremist groups have been active since at least 1994.

wavebreakmedia/shutterstock.com

The mandatory halting of sales of alcohol at Ohio bars at 10pm is getting pushback from owners, customers and elected officials. But Gov. Mike DeWine says it has to stay in place for now.

Attorney General Dave Yost speaks at a press conference in October 2019.
Karen Kasler

No-knock warrants have gotten a lot of attention – most notably in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March during a shootout between her boyfriend and police in Louisville, Kentucky. Ohio’s Republican attorney general says he doesn’t want to ban those warrants, as some communities do, but he and the prosecutors in Ohio’s biggest counties have drafted some reforms.

The view from the bench at the Ohio Supreme Court
Dan Konik

Way down at the bottom of the Ohio ballot are two important races – two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court. These are non-partisan races on the ballot, but there are differences between the Republican incumbents and their Democratic challengers.

A line of cars outside the Columbus Department of Health for testing in August.
Daniel Konik

Gov. Mike DeWine is sounding a pessimistic warning about the coronavirus pandemic as the state heads toward colder months. The average number of new cases is up, and positivity has increased despite more people getting tested.

Voters at the Franklin County Board of Elections on the first day of early voting on October 6, 2020
Dan Konik

There are now more registered voters in Ohio than in the last dozen years, but the total didn’t set a record.

A new law that sends $650 million in federal CARES Act money to Ohio communities to help with pandemic-related costs also includes a potential overhaul for the process to apply for unemployment benefits.

Neighbors on a street near the debate site at Case Western Reserve University have differing political viewpoints - and are demonstrating them with their yard signs.
Karen Kasler

Political junkies are anxiously awaiting tonight’s first presidential debate. But while many in the US and around the world will be watching, a lot of Americans will already know who they’re planning on voting for. 

The Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion, where the debate will be held.
Karen Kasler

The first presidential debate gets underway in a few hours in Cleveland. And around Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, where it will be held, streets are blocked off, security perimeters are up and Ohio National Guard personnel are helping police control people and traffic.

Karen Kasler

Anti-abortion activists in Ohio are cheering the nomination of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court – and they plan to celebrate with a bill that would ban all abortions in Ohio if the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is overturned.

A postal truck delivers mail in central Ohio
Jo Ingles

Democratic voters in Ohio continue to flood boards of elections with absentee ballot applications, and they’ve request almost twice as many ballots as all those mailed in by Democrats in 2016.

The Ohio Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed a lawsuit over the expansion of the state’s taxpayer paid private school voucher program, saying a law that changed the program made the suit pointless. But the group that filed the lawsuit is angry.

The EdChoice voucher program for kids in failing schools was set to explode from 517 school buildings to 1200, based on new report card criteria.  

Jo Ingles/Howard Wilkinson, WVXU

The latest Quinnipiac poll shows the race between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is a virtual dead heat – with Biden leading Trump 48% to 47%.

A flyer from the Ohio Republican Party urges voters to consider early mail-in voting and request their absentee ballots, though President Trump has denounced voting by mail as "terrible" and "corrupt". Trump voted absentee by mail in the Florida primary.
Karen Kasler

Ohio voters have requested 1.8 million absentee ballots, more than twice the number of applications at this point four years ago. And there’s a clear trend emerging – those who are affiliated with the Democratic party are seizing the opportunity to vote early by mail, while Republican-affiliated voters are pulling back from that option.

Absentee ballot requests have been pouring in to boards of elections around Ohio, and are approaching all time records. And in most counties, applications from Democratic affiliated voters are leading those from Republicans, in a state that President Trump won by eight points. That includes the state’s three largest counties, which haven’t always been Democratic strongholds.

Karen Kasler

More than twice as many absentee applications have been received from Ohio voters than at this point four years ago, when a record number of early votes were cast in a presidential election in Ohio. 

Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, April 17, 2014.
Levan Ramishvili/flickr

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia were known as close friends, though they were ideological opposites.

Gov. Mike DeWine shakes hands with President Trump when he arrives in Dayton on August 3, 2019, after a mass shooting left nine people dead.
White House photo

After missing President Trump's two previous visits to Ohio this year, Gov. Mike DeWine is planning to meet him at a rally Monday.

Gov. Mike DeWine tweeted out this photo of him signing a bill on addiction treatment drugs. His office didn't share a photo of him signing HB 272, which he signed the same day.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine/Twitter

Gov. Mike DeWine has signed into law a ban on closures of houses of worship and on moving the date of an election – though he and other public officials have said those things technically have never happened in Ohio.

The governor's ceremonial office in the Statehouse
Karen Kasler

Gov. Mike DeWine is rejecting a proposal from a Republican lawmaker who wants to cancel the state of emergency order he issued in March, as the pandemic was just beginning. 

Former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, flanked by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (right) and Gov. Mike DeWine, speaks at a press conference on March 9, the day the state of emergency order was signed.
Andy Chow

A Republican representative who’s been critical of Ohio’s response to coronavirus has proposed a bill to cancel the state of emergency order from March - the foundation of many of the state’s COVID restrictions.

Absentee ballot applications were sent out by Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office just before Labor Day.
Karen Kasler

Absentee ballot requests are flooding into boards of elections. Secretary of State Frank LaRose reports 1.4 million applications have been received so far, well more than the 1.2 million ballot requests received in all of 2016. And early voting doesn’t start till October 6.

The city of Columbus, as seen from the Main Street bridge.
Karen Kasler

There are two bills that would make changes in how income taxes are collected by the biggest cities in Ohio. And a group that advocates for municipalities is very worried about them.

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