Kasich’s kamikaze campaign zeroes in on Ohio

posted at 3:21 pm on February 26, 2016 by Jason Hart

If you’re hoping another poor debate showing prompts Ohio Gov. John Kasich to suspend his presidential campaign — don’t.

Many observers have remarked on Kasich’s lack of organization, lack of funding, single-digit poll numbers, and thinly-veiled hatred of Republican primary voters as reasons he should maybe stop pursuing the Republican nomination for president.

None of these things matter to Kasich. The only thing that does is Ohio’s March 15 primary.

Kasich’s single-state campaign in New Hampshire got a lower percentage of votes than Jon Huntsman won before dropping out in 2012, but his 2nd-place finish was enough to spin as the early “win” Kasich needed to continue.

Sure, Kasich finished 8th of 10 in Iowa, 5th of 6 in South Carolina, and 5th of 5 in Nevada. Those states aren’t Ohio, which is — I’ve just been handed this breaking news — the state where John Kasich is governor.

Ohio is also the state hosting the RNC convention, a convention Kasich’s right-hand man is leaving the governor’s office to help the Ohio Republican Party run:

[Jai] Chabria and others stressed that he remains a key member of Kasich’s inner circle. The move, Chabria said, will free him up to be more helpful to the governor’s run.

“I’m a Kasich partisan. I have been my entire life,” said Chabria, whose last day on the state payroll is Friday. “I will make sure anything I do advances his career. … I’m going to use the ability to be on the outside to further enhance John Kasich and his brand.”

Matt Borges, ORP chairman, couldn’t be more delighted:

“To have the governor’s top lieutenant navigating all of those issues is huge,” Borges said. “The governor won’t be able to spend much time on this. Jai is the next best thing.”

The same goes for Kasich campaign guru John Weaver:

“Someone has to look at the convention through John Kasich’s eyes, and there is no one better to do that than Jai,” Weaver said. “He has been and is a central part of the governor’s political and governmental life. To have him at the state party where he can more easily assist everyone is a boon for the Kasich campaign.”

So… yeah. Team Kasich is still moving pieces into place for the convention. Expect ORP to expend vast resources for Kasich in Ohio, and don’t count on Kasich bowing out any earlier than March 16.

Kasich acolytes control ORP because of a concerted effort to drive out nonbelievers from the state central committee in 2012. Useful idiots like yours truly played along, expecting a unified ORP to pave the way for Kasich’s conservative agenda and help the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

So much for that. While Mitt Romney tried to campaign against the Obama economy, Kasich trumpeted Ohio’s amazing rebound in preparation for his 2014 reelection campaign and the current presidential race.

And how about Kasich’s conservative agenda?

It’s true that Kasich has cut taxes, expanded school choice, and signed numerous solid pro-life and pro-Second Amendment bills sent to his desk by the Republican supermajorities in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate.

A great many parts of the governor’s record, though, are the opposite of what conservatives had in mind when many of us were suckered into helping him take over ORP.

Since 2012, Kasich has been fighting for a huge fracking tax hike, a policy he promotes as a way to fund an income tax cut by sticking it to Big Oil. He has torpedoed Republican efforts to make Ohio a right-to-work state and roll back “green energy” mandates.

When Kasich came into office in 2011, Ohio’s General Revenue Fund spending was $26.2 billion. By 2015, Kasich had increased GRF spending to $30.8 billion.

Then there’s Obamacare expansion, a policy so awful it should be disqualifying on the merits alone. Kasich’s method of expanding Obamacare and his preachy promotion of Obamacare expansion could hardly be worse.

But Team Kasich runs ORP, so Kasich’s embrace of Obamacare didn’t stop the Party from spending big to run up the score in 2014 against a hapless, scandal-plagued Democrat who quit campaigning in August.

Being entrusted with hosting the GOP convention didn’t stop ORP from endorsing Kasich for president, either, and Kasich backers’ control of ORP is why the General Assembly moved Ohio’s primary to make it winner-take-all.

Team Kasich has been crafting their Ohio Miracle narrative for years, and they think it’ll bring them a presidential nomination. If it takes a brokered convention, so be it.

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