Breaking from tradition, the Ohio Republican Party voted to formally endorse Gov. John Kasich for president this morning.
Unsurprisingly, GOP State Central & Exec Committee votes 44-9 to endorse John Kasich for president. More later @gongwer
— Mikel Livingston (@mikellivingston) January 8, 2016
Unless you’re blissfully unaware of all presidential campaign proceedings, you’ll recall Ohio is hosting this year’s Republican National Convention. Nice of the host state’s GOP to slam its thumb on the scale before the first caucuses and primaries, no?
The Ohio GOP state central committee voted by paper ballot to endorse the home team governor and then decided to call the 44-9 vote unanimous, because why not.
Obviously, this move is meant to boost a flagging “Kasich 2016: Because Ohio” campaign in New Hampshire and elsewhere. But in light of Kasich’s poll numbers and the past several years of party maneuvering, the endorsement has the feel of a story arc reaching its zenith.
Foundation for Government Accountability polling has shown Republican primary voters aren’t keen on nominating an Obamacare supporter. This is true even in New Hampshire, where Kasich is struggling to compete with fellow Medicaid-expander Chris Christie.
The latest RealClearPolitics average for New Hampshire has Kasich behind Trump, Sen. Rubio, Sen. Cruz, and Gov. Christie.
It seems doubtful that adding an exclamation mark to Kasich’s “Because Ohio!” tagline will sway many New Hampshire voters. If Kasich doesn’t finish second in New Hampshire, his campaign will be added to the John Weaver campaign dustbin of history.
And it’s not as if there was any question which candidate Ohio GOP leadership favored before today, especially after chairman Matt Borges bashed Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel as a “bit player” when Mandel had the audacity to endorse Rubio last spring.
Before Kasich officially entered the race, the GOP-controlled Ohio General Assembly passed a bill moving the state’s primary so its delegates would be winner-take-all; many of the state’s elected Republicans have lined up behind Kasich out of loyalty and/or a knowledge that Kasich’s people run the Ohio GOP.
Team Kasich has held a tight grip on the party’s reins since 2012, when former chairman Kevin DeWine — cousin of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine — and allies were ousted from the central committee.
Many Ohioans (including yours truly) initially viewed this as a positive development, likely to smooth GOP operations during the 2012 cycle while letting Kasich focus on trimming government. Wrong on both counts.
Then again, my criticism of Kasich’s Obamacare expansion long ago unmasked me as an “enemy blogger” who “is known to be anti-Kasich on virtually every issue,” so I’m the wrong guy to be commenting on this.
What does everyone think about the Ohio GOP endorsing its own guy a month before Iowa and New Hampshire, and six months before the convention in Cleveland?