Famed short story writer O. Henry, who once upon a time spent several years in the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus for embezzlement, wrote one of his most famous short stories, “The Ransom of Red Chief,” in 1907. The comical plot follows two kidnappers and their catch, a wealthy man’s son. The kidnapped kid, spoiled and hyperactive, eventually force the kidnappers to pay the father to take his obnoxious and disagreeable son back.
Sound familiar? Any names of contemporary politicians come to mind?
Ohio Gov. John Kasich seems to have easily won the starring role in the 2016 sequel, Red Chief wants to be president. Entering the second half of primary states where winner-take-all rules bode ill for him, Ohio’s 63-year old, term-limited governor has a big hurdle to over come. Widely known for his Red Chief behavior and antics over the decades, a record many Republicans remember and helps explain why he’s not getting the love he thinks he deserves after 32 primaries so far of which he’s finished first in just one, John Kasich is watching as his second try for the Oval Office seems on track to be as unsuccessful as his first one 16 years ago.
John Kasich Is ‘Red Chief’
Camp Kasich got more bad news Tuesday, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. Kasich’s alter ego in so many ways, shunned the Ohio leader and endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Badger State’s upcoming primary on April 5.
“After all these years of the Obama-Clinton failures, it’s time we elect a strong new leader and I’ve chosen to endorse Ted Cruz,” Gov. Walker said Tuesday as a guest on a conservative radio show, CNN reported.
Campaigning in Wisconsin head of next weeks primary election, Sen. Cruz told voters that “help is on the way.” Sen. Cruz, who has won first-place finishes over GOP league-leader Donald John Trump in nine states so far and is second in the delegate count, said the election will come down to three issues, jobs, freedom and security.
John Kasich has only finished first once so far, in his home state of Ohio. He remains a distant third [144 delegates] to Trump [755 delegates] and Cruz [465 delegates] yet refuses to get out of the race as more and more Republicans have called on him to do.
Lagging in fundraising and low on campaign cash, Camp Kasich is trying to spin its moves in Wisconsin as “reallocating media in a dynamic atmosphere.” A campaign spokesman said the shift is just about winning some congressional districts. In basic Kasich mode, Ohio’s CEO-style governor said he’s not “losing any sleep” over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s endorsement of his rival, Ted Cruz, the AP reported.
Meanwhile, he lost another big endorsement, but then wondered if endorsements really have an impact? Mr. Kasich said endorsements have an impact when “somebody puts their shoulder to the wheel and really pushes like crazy to make a difference.” To make his point, he said he’s endorsed “a bunch of people who lost.” He obviously didn’t push like crazy, so getting endorsed by John R. Kasich is its own problem. It follows, then, that his endorsement by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel won’t have much an impact, either.
In recent weeks, Kasich has lost out on endorsements from several of his one-time challengers, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Florida governor Jeb! Bush, 2012’s GOP nominee Mitt Romney. With Gov. Scott Walker’s abandonment of Kasich today, it seems the former mean-guy-turned-nice-guy, whose campaign has received little to no scrutiny so far and who says his positive message about his long but outdated Washington resume makes his the best candidate to carry the GOP banner against Democrats this year, is rubbing everyone the wrong way by continuing to play the role of stubborn “Red Chief” spoiler.
Scott Walker rose to governor as Kasich did in 2010, when Tea Party rage pushed these politicians to high office. Unlike Kasich in Ohio, Walker won a recall election and then a second-term election in 2014. In Ohio, which doesn’t allow for the recall of statewide officers, John Kasich ditched his Tea Party backers as soon as he won with policies that cut against their call to not expand Medicaid under Obamacare and by pushing the highest budgets in state history.
What’s The Ransom?
Sen. Cruz is winning endorsements because many think he’s the real conservative this year. Mr. Kasich, who has come under withering commentary by serious conservatives who see him as Hillary Clinton lite, is pinning his hopes on arriving in Cleveland in July and winning the nomination through back room deals because he couldn’t win it legitimately on the road.
Mr. Kasich’s ransom to get out sooner rather than later may be an offer to be the vice presidential running mate to Trump or Cruz or to head-up a Cabinet post if and when Democrats are defeated in November. Prevailing wisdom says his sanctimonious, rude behavior, which he’s kept under wraps for the most part so far, doesn’t earn him or endear him to Republican leaders and pundits.