“My party is my vehicle, not my master,” as Kasich likes to say.

There is recent precedent for such a candidate. In 2012, another media sensation who relished breaking with GOP orthodoxies jumped in the presidential race late, only to flame out early. His name was Jon Huntsman.

Kasich shares far more than Huntsman’s willingness to scold fellow Republicans. Kasich has essentially imported both Huntsman’s campaign strategy (betting on New Hampshire) and his campaign team. Three of Huntsman’s old top advisers—strategists Fred Davis, John Weaver, and Matt David—are leading both Kasich’s campaign and his super PAC.

“He’s not going to be a craven candidate,” said Fred Davis, the top ad man for Kasich’s super PAC. “He’s not going to say things just for the sake of getting elected. He’s going to tell you who he really is, and if you happen to like it, which I do, then he’ll do really well. And maybe he will and maybe he won’t.”