John Kaisch To Enter Presidential Race In Late July

In an ordinary year, Ohio Governor John Kasich seems like he'd be a perfect candidate for Republicans in an era when winning the Buckeye State is essential to winning the White House. But things are far from ordinary in the GOP.

GOP 2016 New Hampshire

Ohio Governor John Kasich is set to enter the race for President next month:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich will jump into the crowded Republican presidential field on July 21 at the student union at his alma mater, The Ohio State University, in Columbus, advisers tell POLITICO.

Kasich, 63, who was overwhelmingly reelected in November, will aim to appear less scripted and guarded than the leading candidates. Advisers say he combines establishment appeal with a conservative record going back to his stint as House Budget Committee chairman, during his 18 years as a congressman from Ohio.

Despite his late start, Kasich will be one of the most closely watched candidates — partly because Ohio is such a crucial presidential state, putting Kasich on many short lists for vice president.

Kasich briefly pursued a presidential bid in the 2000 cycle, but got no traction and dropped out in July 1999, endorsing George W. Bush.

For Kasich’s announcement on July 21, the doors will open at 9:30 a.m. at The Ohio Union at Ohio State.

The announcement date puts Kasich a week behind the other Midwestern governor in the race, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who plans to announce the week of July 13.

On paper at least, Kasich seems like the kind of candidate that the Republican Party would love to see running for President. After serving in the Ohio State Senate, he spent nearly two decades in Congress, rising to head the powerful House Budget Committee not long after the GOP took control of Congress in 1994, and made a name for himself as a strong fiscal conservative. He ran for President in 2000, which was a long shot to begin with considering how rare it actually is for the House of Representatives to give birth to a Presidential candidate, and after that spent nearly a decade in the private sector before running for Ohio Governor in 2010 when he benefited strongly from the Republican wave that year. Last year, he was re-elected in a landslide thanks in no small part to the fact that Ohio Democrats could not find a credible candidate to run against him and the fact that Ohio’s economy had improved so much from the Ted Strickland era that there was likely no candidate who could have made a credible case to fire the Governor. In any case, given the importance of Ohio to the Republican Party’s chances of getting 270 Electoral Votes in November 2016, one would think that Kaisch would be a top contender for the nomination. One would also be wrong.

Kasich’s problems as a candidate are two-fold. First of all, while he’s obviously intelligent and well-versed in policy issues, he doesn’t come generally come across as the kind of passionate candidate that does well on the stump in states like Iowa or New Hampshire. This is something people pointed out about former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty four years ago, who ended up dropping out after a disappointing showing in the Iowa Straw Poll. It is, perhaps, a sad commentary on our media drive political culture, but it’s true. The bigger issue for Kasich, though, is that he’s taken steps as Governor that have caused many in the GOP base outside Ohio to turn against him. The best example of this, of course, is his decision to support Ohio’s adoption of the Medicaid expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act, something that other Republican Governors running for President such as Scott Walker and Rick Perry have resisted. Among other things, this has caused Kaisch, who was among the most conservative members of Congress in the 1990s, to somehow now considered a Republican In Name Only, or a RINO. No doubt, his statement yesterday that the GOP needs to accept the Supreme Court’s decision on the rights of gays and lesbians to be legally married will contribute to that reputation in some some circles

The polls reflect Kasich’s dilemma. He is or near the bottom in national polling and in the polls that have been done in the early states. Right now, he would be excluded from the early debates that begin just about a week after his scheduled announcement. Obviously, he is hoping that the announcement, combined with whatever pre-announcement campaigning and press appearances he makes, will be enough to boost his standing in the polls to get him into the debates. But, then, that’s the hope of so many other candidates such as Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and Carly Fiorina, As it stands right now, there are going to be sixteen Republicans running for President by the end of July and only ten spots available in each of the two first debates. This is going to be like a really boring version of Survivor.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Chris says:

    Kasich’s only weakness is that most Republican Primary Voters and a growing number of general election voters are subscribing to a mythological version of what a Presidential candidate ought to be.

    Or what a President ought to be.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small,” he said at one point. “But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor.” -John Kasich 2013

    He’s toast.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    I’m curious what the record is for the most candidates for a major party presidential nomination contest…surely this year’s GOP crowd has to be at or near that record…

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    He is perhaps the only Republican governor running or thinking about running that has nearly destroyed his state. Unfortunately he is toast with the FOX News base of the party.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ron Beasley: He is perhaps the only Republican governor running or thinking about running that has NOT nearly destroyed his state.

    Small typo Ron.

  6. Tyrell says:

    Meanwhile. Sanders is surging with his middle class message.

  7. Chris says:

    @Ron Beasley: and we found a Pavlick

  8. Scott says:

    His qualifications: he’s not nuts and he’s not a Bush. He should do well but he won’t.

  9. wr says:

    His campaign comercial should consist of him running Christie’s announcement video, then have him come out and say “That? Not me.”

  10. Franklin says:

    He’s already got two strikes with me. He’s a Republican and an Ohio State alum.

  11. J-Dub says:

    I think he’s the only one with a shot to beat Hillary Clinton but I doubt he’ll make it that far. The Republican’s don’t have the sense to get behind him. Trump might make it into the debates before Kasich, and that is a sad commentary on the state of the Republican party.

  12. J-Dub says:

    @Franklin: Third strike might be that he ran the Columbus office of Lehman Bros. when they went belly-up. I doubt he shares much, if any, of the blame for that but some might find him guilty by association.

  13. JohnMcC says:

    @Tyrell: I was thinking the same thing. I bet that absolute numbers of voters who tell pollsters they favor BERNIE! or attend his rallies or donate small amounts to him far, FAR exceed any individual Repub candidate.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:


    some might find him guilty by association

    In the modern Republican party, that is not a flaw. Look at Trump’s popularity.

  15. John says:


    I think he can if he selects the right VP, makes it through the primary, and Hillary gets bloodied on the way. None of these things are implausible by themselves, but all 3 of them happening is a stretch in my books.