Not since his days as a student at The Ohio State University, back in the 1970s, has John Kasich lost an election that carried his name on the ballot. That streak ended Tuesday in New Hampshire.
Capturing only 16 percent of the vote in the very small and very liberal New England state, Mr. Kasich came in a distant second place to Donald Trump who blew him out by more than double with 35 percent. The New York real estate Titan running his first ever political campaign ended the day with 50,000 votes more than John Kasich, whose been a career politician for over 30 years and claims his status as an establishment insider will make Washington work again.
Finishing In ‘So What’ Place
Ohio’s governor was the league leader among his Republican equals, including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. This foursome, collectively, won 40 percent of Granite State voters who voted Republican today. They also have more money left than he does, according AP reports that he “has far less cash than any of his closest competitors.”
For election buffs, the irony from New Hampshire is that Gov. Kasich got clobbered by Trump in approximately the same proportion that Democratic candidate for governor of Ohio Ed FitzGerald lost to Camp Kasich in 2014. The lopsided win almost two years ago assured the governor a second and final term, paving the way for his second run for the White House in 2000. Last week in Iowa, Gov. Kasich won exactly one delegate and finished eighth.
John Kasich earns credit for earning his moment in the sun after finishing second, but media doesn’t know yet if he can stay viable until the March primaries, which include Ohio on the 15. Gov. Kasich should heed the Ides of March given the last reliable poll in Ohio that factored in Donald Trump has Ohio’s governor losing to him by ten points, 23-13. Mr. Kasich may have home-field advantage in Ohio but he’s not guaranteed to win it. That would be terribly embarrassing for him but a huge win for Trump.
Anyone tuning into the first-in-the-nation primary without any prior knowledge of the candidates and how voting in New Hampshire works probably thought Gov. Kasich won since he presented himself as the big winner. For those who have heard him before, maybe on more than one occasion, the governor’s speech offered nothing. It essentially followed the same scripted contours built on the same stories designed to show he has a “big heart.” For Kasich novices, having a big heart is code for defending Democratic programs and policies like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, among many other social safety net programs Americans love and depend on.
Kasich For National Chaplin
Plunderbund readers know exactly how bad John Kasich would be as president when his nearly five years on the job is examined. Tonight, though, the normally combative politician who’s mind is made up on virtually all issues, even though he fails to provide real detail on them, gave a solid and compelling job interview for National Chaplin. Ministering to those looking for hope and inspiration, as he’s done in Ohio and now in New Hampshire, suits his quirky, off-beat, folksy persona well because it advances him by wrapping the problems of others around him like a warm blanket.
His policies as governor have been bad, but those policies are no different and maybe worse than other Republicans who like him rose to claim power in 2010, the year of the Tea Party. Gov. Kasich’s sweet-sounding narrative of being the leader who inspires and lifts others up to meet their god given potential shatters like thin ice hit by a boulder when what he has actually done is compared to what he says he’ll do if he gets to Washington.
The one-time Catholic altar boy learned early on that he can control a group of people with his energy and misdirection, as he confesses doing in “Every Other Monday,” a book by Kasich that sheds light on why he thinks his thoughts. He showed just how skilled he’s become at motivational speechifying when he lapsed into National Chaplin mode following is distant second place finish. Saying he’s working for something larger is priceless in Kasich world, and sells well in performance politics.
But Mr. Trump’s win was so lopsided that second place could just as well be “so what” place. Trump and the GOP wolf pack now move to South Carolina where the base ready to vote for an outsider like the New York billionaire grows and John Kasich’s constituency of older whites ready to settle for a moderate establishment insider like him shrinks.
John Kasich spent months in New Hampshire, at an estimated cost of more than a million dollars in state taxpayer money that’s paying his security tab while he campaigns in another state, for another job. That appears to be his entitlement as the leader of Ohio. Finishing second isn’t a win, but it’s a big improvement over a campaign that never got off the ground 16 years ago when it became clear that the next anointed one for Republicans was Texas Gov. George W. Bush.