John Kasich is running for president.
He has yet to announce his candidacy, but a source close to the Republican governor of Ohio has informed the HPR that “Kasich is definitely running,” in 2016. The HPR reached out to his office for comment, but has not yet received a response. According to the source, Kasich likely will not make his candidacy public until he has raised enough funds to compete with other prominent GOP candidates.
Kasich ran for the nation’s highest office in 2000 but dropped out of the GOP race to support George W. Bush. Since then, however, he has enjoyed a myriad of political successes. Most recently, he was elected for his second term as governor of Ohio by a 30-point margin, winning 86 of the state’s 88 counties. At 62, Kasich is at the peak of his political career and could be a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination.
Kasich’s blue-collar charisma could prove his greatest strength. Born in an industrial town outside of Pittsburgh, the soon-to-be candidate has successfully painted himself as a hardworking man of the people. He used this brusque charm to become the youngest person elected to the Ohio Senate, taking office at the age of 26. Six years later, he ran for U.S. Congress and defeated incumbent Democrat Bob Shemansky. In each of his eight subsequent Congressional elections, Kasich won handily, with at least 64 percent of the vote. After a brief break from public office, he was elected governor of Ohio in 2010.
Not only does Kasich have a history of electoral success, but he also has serious conservative credentials that will serve him well in the primary. He began writing his own budgets immediately upon arriving in Washington. His fiscal proposals, although long considered radical, were eventually incorporated into the party’s mainstream platform. In 1994, Newt Gingrich awarded him the House Budget Committee chairmanship. The former speaker considers Kasich one of four conservative who defined the Republican Party during the 20th century, in the company of Gingrich himself, Ronald Reagan, and Jack Kemp.
In 2012 as governor of Ohio, Kasich slashed an $8 billion projected deficit without raising taxes. In fact, between 2010 and 2014, he cut taxes by $3 billion, lowering the state income tax by 10 percent and slicing the small business tax in half. Ohio’s rainy day fund has grown by about $600 million under his leadership.
Despite his impressive resume, however, Kasich has several sticking points that may hurt him during the GOP race. Most notably, he has frequently diverged from the party line. He is an adamant supporter of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, an almost unheard-of position among Republicans. He has also expressed openness toward a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Kasich’s willingness to defy the GOP’s right wing could prove an obstacle in earning the endorsements of other members of his party.
In addition, Kasich has garnered a reputation of abrasiveness. Ohio lobbyists often warn their clients not to take offense if Kasich insults them. His arrogance has turned off donors, and he has even lashed out at constituents. Colleagues describe him as someone who speaks before he thinks, not unlike probable fellow GOP candidate Chris Christie. Kasich is nothing if not genuine, but his harsh honesty could hurt him as he steps evermore into the public spotlight.
John Kasich’s unique blend of fiscal expertise, honesty, and charisma could make him one of the most interesting candidates in the upcoming GOP race. An electoral veteran who has maintained bipartisan support in an important swing state and demonstrated a knack for mobilizing blue-collar conservatives, Kasich should have 2016’s bigger names shifting in their seats.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Saturday, May 2, 2015, at 3:10 PM EST.
Image Credit: Office of Governor John Kasich