Rethinking America, Richter Scale

Kasich All the Way!

Why GOP big moneymen would be foolish to pass by Ohio’s governor in the presidential race.

Governor John Kasich (Credit: Office of Ohio Governor John R. Kasich Wikimedia Commons )

Takeaways


  • Of the 44 US presidents to date, six came from Ohio, where John Kasich is now governor.
  • Kasich pulled off the trick of being experienced in US governance, while remaining Middle American.
  • Jeb is simply not exciting voters. “Solidness” alone ain't going to make it to the White House.
  • DC newbies like Cruz, Rubio & Paul aren’t just inexperienced, but also lack legislative supporters.
  • Gov. Kasich would be a terrific trade for the Republican Party's big moneymen to pick as a presidential candidate.

The one advantage that the Republican Party has in the 2016 presidential race is that the big moneymen heavily influencing the field can decide to switch horses in the middle of the race – quite literally.

Conventional wisdom is that the party’s moneymen largely favor Jeb Bush for the nomination. There is just one big problem: Jeb is simply not exciting the electorate.

Solid as he is, solidness alone ain’t going to make it to the White House. (Nor is flamboyance the winning formula, even if Donald Trump’s penchant to call everyone “losers” has riveted the American people for the moment.)

And even if Jeb Bush were to catch fire all of a sudden, a Bush candidacy robs the Republicans of their most potent weapon. That is to argue that Hillary Clinton, supposedly a Democrat, is part of the very moneyed (and dynastic) Washington establishment!

What the Republicans need is somebody anti-dynastic, but otherwise with credentials similar to Bush’s In short, someone with solid experience all around – and, ideally, also respect in both the conservative and the centrist camps.

You can count on Ohio

Which brings us very quickly to a seasoned former congressman from the Midwest, John Kasich, who is now in his second term as governor of Ohio.

Of the 44 U.S. presidents to date, six came from Ohio. The state has always been an electoral battleground and a bellwether state for Republicans. No Republican Presidential candidate ever won the White House without winning Ohio. A victory in this presidential swing state also brings with it 18 electoral votes.

Beyond his Ohio roots, John Kasich has a unique advantage that sets him apart from the Republican field. From 1983 to 2001, he served for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, including as Chairman of the House Budget Committee – So he knows how Washington works.

As Kasich pointed out at the first Republican Presidential candidate debate, during his time as the Budget Committee chairman, the U.S. government managed the rave feat of running a balanced budget in 1997. Co-incidentally, this achievement — a direct result of the strong economy during the Clinton boom years — ties him quite intimately to the Clinton clan.

John Kasich was wise enough to leave Washington 14 years ago and promptly headed back to Ohio. Even his subsequent Fox News television program, aptly titled “Heartland,” was hosted from Ohio.

Kasich thus seems to have pulled off the impossible trick of becoming experienced in the functions of national governance, while remaining closely associated with Middle America.

As it turns out, Gov. Kasich would be a terrific trade for the Republican Party’s big moneymen.

His life story is an all-American story. He is born and bred in the Rust Belt to a working class family. He is a second-generation American of Slavic immigrant heritage (Czech and Croat).

His father was a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. If Kasich didn’t happen to be a member of the Republican Party, he could very well be a mildly conservative Midwestern Democrat.

The art of D.C. power

For all the present excitement about several of the dynamic, young candidates in the Republican field, even among the party’s usually old moneymen, there is hesitation about picking another young honcho. This is certainly true for the electorate at large.

After the presidency of Barack Obama, selecting somebody once again who is young and politically inexperienced, as the current president was when he got elected, appears to be a bridge too far for many voters.

Moreover, while it might be seen as a political asset for a presidential candidate to be relatively “new” to Washington, it can be a major obstacle when it comes time to govern.

“Newbies” like Cruz, Rubio and Paul — also candidates for the Republican nomination — are not merely inexperienced. They are unfamiliar with the structural and informal processes by which laws and regulations are made in the United States.

They have also not built up a sufficiently large arsenal of friends and allies in Congress yet who they could rely on for help to further their legislative goals once they gotten to the White House.

Unlike Kasich, they have gathered expertise only in how to promote themselves personally — that, of course, to the maximum extent. While this is an inevitable part of politics, it is not enough to be president.

If elected, these young guns would find themselves in the same isolated position that Presidents Obama, Clinton, Carter and others found themselves before. The ability of the Rubios and Cruzes to get anything done for their patrons, the Republican moneymen, is likely to be limited.

If the Republican moneymen’s goal number one is stopping a Clinton presidency and goal number two is getting their policy agenda passed, they will recognize the value proposition that Kasich represents. Unlike the unconnected young governors and senators vying against him, he is a pro and has built up considerable experience and political capital.

The latter will all be gradually eliminated from the presidential consideration – and get shortlisted instead for the Vice Presidency.

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About Stephan Richter

Stephan Richter, from Berlin, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist. [Berlin/Germany]

Responses to “Kasich All the Way!”

Archived Comments.

  1. On August 7, 2015 at 9:42 am Guy Pfeffermann responded with... #

    Excellent analysis.

  2. On August 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm Quentin Langley responded with... #

    I mostly agree, but Rubio’s situation is significantly different from Paul, Cruz and (as of 2008) Obama. He spent some years in a state legislature and rose to a leadership position there. He genuinely does know how legislatures work.

  3. On August 9, 2015 at 3:42 am 20eric responded with... #

    Calling the race for American presidents an “election” is a misnomer, it should be given the proper name, AUCTION!

  4. On August 11, 2015 at 2:44 am bhumphreyTG responded with... #

    State legislative governance is still significantly different from Congressional governance, but — probably more importantly — he also simply doesn’t have a particularly large base of legislative supporters in Congress to help him with his agenda if elected president. That’s true of a lot of the candidates running, but it doesn’t really offset the problem for him. His signature legislative effort, on immigration reform, ended up dying a slow and painful death in Congress that he had to finish off himself. Even President Obama, who faced similar problems with Congress after his election from the Senate to the White House, had at least gotten his few signature items through and generated some good will and respect (not enough it would seem).

  5. On August 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm Quentin Langley responded with... #

    State legislatures are different, but a record of leadership and achievement trumps one that has neither of those things. Congress is not, generally speaking, a good background for a president: the senate especially, as it gives very high precedence to seniority. Could you specify Barack Obama’s legislative achievements as a senator?

  6. On August 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm bhumphreyTG responded with... #

    Lugar-Obama arms control, Coburn-Obama Transparency Act, DR Congo RSDP Act, Hagel-Obama, S-CHIP amendment, and various other amendments regarding veterans affairs. The first two are usually regarded as the big ones.