Earlier this year, I had written about the potential of a John Kasich candidacy. Now, Kasich is at a critical stage of his run — when he is beginning to receive important media coverage, such as from conservative icon George Will and a major story in the New York Times. This media exposure in the pre-announcement stage of the Kasich campaign has to translate into increased numbers in both the polls and donors. Without either in the near future, Kasich has no shot to mount a credible challenge to Jeb Bush and his powerful political organization and massive amount of money.
But Kasich has some advantages over Bush. He is the governor of the country’s most important state electorally and he has nothing less than spectatcular approval ratings. This is especially noteworthy in what has become an ever-polarized political environment. Likewise, though both are 62, Kasich is the fresh face, more 2016 than 2007, when Bush last held office.
A primary advantage of Kasich may also be a major disadvantage. The Ohio governor seemingly speaks without a filter. He is nothing if not authentic and genuine in an age where most voters claim to want a politician to be honest, to speak his or her mind. But are voting Americans truly ready to vote for someone who doesn’t tell them everything they want to hear? Either way, Kasich will likely be able to transcend gotcha politics. Gotcha politics is effective because appeasing politicians are so very afraid to say anything that might challenge some voters’ reality of the world. Kasich has no such fear. You just don’t get the sense he’ll be falling all over himself recalibrating his earlier statements or policies.
It will be a David versus Goliath struggle for Kasich. The odds are extremely high that he’ll prevail. However, he has an ace in the hole with what has become an insular party.The GOP field is crowded but mainly with far right candidates that would be crushed in the general election. This wing of the party is so myopic it views Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a viable candidate. Really!
But one senses the Republican powerbrokers get it. Their nominee is going to be a card-carrying conservative, but one with empathy who embraces immigrants, education standards and those less fortunate. This is Jeb. It’s also Kasich. In the end, that could be the ticket.