John Kasich is a Good Las Vegas Bet for 2016 Republican Ticket

The two big winners in the Republican presidential derby after the November 4th elections were Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Governor John Kasich of Ohio.
It’s easy to make predictions when they don’t have any consequences, and won’t be recalled if they turn out completely wrong, so here goes:

If I had to make an academic prediction today, I’d say Scott Walker will be the R’s standard bearer in 2016.  But John Kasich right now is a much better Las Vegas bet. He has longer odds than Walker (or any R candidate showing up in the Real Clear Politics polls), but also a huge (under-appreciated) upside. It’s all about seeking out the undervalued stocks.

If you prefer betting “win and place,” Kasich is an even better bet for one of the two spots on the R’s ticket in 2016.  If R’s nominate a hard right winger for the top spot, what’s better for them than a more moderate, charismatic Ohioan for veep?

After taming the public sector Unions in Wisconsin and beating back a “ground zero” recall election, Walker has stayed the course as a darling of the Republican base. He won a big victory this November in a blue state and has been careful not to harm his own Keystone Pipeline from Koch Industries to Madison. Kasich, on the other hand, after his resounding re-election in a purple swing state, hasn’t tried at all to hide his tilt to the center, which clinched his big win in Ohio.

Kasich’s brand of moderation was almost garishly on display at the recent Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) forum, featuring Kasich, along with Governors Walker, Spence, Perry, and Jindal. Only at a Republican gathering can something be both moderate and garish at the same time.

The RGA event, hosted by Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd, had the feel of a Republican primary debate. But it received very little coverage. Kasich stood out, positioning himself as a bridge builder (both metaphorically and in his maverick support for replenishing the Highway Trust Fund). It’s a big story, buried for now. But it won’t be for long, if Kasich repeats this act more often and at better venues.

If you watch the RGA forum, it’s clear that Kasich tried to put daylight between himself and the other Governors. He was already physically separated on the stage, ironically at the far right, but then kept turning sideways and leaning backward, placing him still further away from his brothers, and at a distinctly different angle.  Check out:  Kasich at RGA on C-span, and his comments on bi-partisan unity, amnesty, common core, and obamacare

Kasich has been amazingly invisible in the Republican polls. Yet he was a Tea Partier long before there was a Tea Party, and a Ryan-esque conservative budget guru long before anyone heard of Paul Ryan.

In the 1990s Kasich was a young star and first lieutenant in the Newt Gingrich revolution, chairing the House Budget Committee. Kasich was the real thing as budget sage, not just a master of buzz words, like Mr. Ryan. (Ryan causes Republican audiences to swoon when he refers to the “budget base” or says things like “carry forward” and “bow wave”).

If the Ohio Governor can convince a few powerful conservative king makers (with shekels) that his new brand of moderation (which went over real big in the beast of all swing states, Ohio), can do well with swing voters, Latinos, and disillusioned Obama supporters, while being tolerated by the Party’s base, he has a great chance. Yes, I know, that’s a big IF. Kasich has some of the same inconvenient attributes for an R primary as Christie, but Kasich is a mid western good ole’ boy out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and he’s not obnoxious.

The resume seems perfect: Budget Czar of the first Republican Revolution, resoundingly popular Governor in the king of swing states, a solid record of spending and tax cuts and real regulatory reform in Ohio, joined with good economic results there (whether or not that had anything to do with the policy reforms).

But here is the rub: At the RGA forum, and elsewhere, he’s taken nuanced positions on
Obama Immigration Policy, Common Core Education Standards, and Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion. Even a hint of any one of those is usually enough to doom a Republican’s presidential aspirations.

But if R’s want a real chance to win, the king-making donors might be persuaded that a smart, authentic, humorous, popular Ohio Governor beats the bland (Walker) guy from Wisconsin, Florida’s Bush,  who is further to the left on immigration and common core, the fringy and goofy retreads from 2008 and 2012, and the flip flopper in chief (the “severe conservative”) who the R’s nominated in 2012, then Kasich is a really interesting bet. Think about it, if you happen to be visiting Las Vegas over the holidays.

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “John Kasich is a Good Las Vegas Bet for 2016 Republican Ticket

  1. alex maclachlan

    Wow, that’s the exact guy I privately targeted myself, Irv. Kasich has the experience at the federal level and worked with Clinton on tax and welfare reform after the 1994 mid terms and is a two time governor of a mid western state who polls high with the Latino and Black voters. I think you are right on the button there.

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    1. Irv Lefberg Post author

      Thanks, Alex. Am delighted that i can simulate the mind of a real conservative and come to the Kasich conclusion. Thanks for the affirmation, Too bad for Rs that they probably won;’t get their act together to make the Kasich thing happen, which is good for Ds. 🙂

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  2. Russ Lehman

    Irv, be careful when you hop on that prognostication train. Few people though Obama had a chance at this time in 2006. Many people thought that McCain would be a very powerful candidate. Hillary was the odds on favorite in 2008. Many thought Rick Perry would be a strong candidate in 2008. Walker did in fact win as a conservative in a blue-ish state. he is however a disaster as a public speaker, far too conservative for many behind the blue-wall, and his positions on many critical issues is far out of the main stream.

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    1. Irv Lefberg Post author

      Russ, yeah, your are absolutely right about the folly of forecasting Prez nominations so early. I tried to convey my understanding of that by stressing that I see Kasich as a really good Las Vegas bet because he’s still (in my view) undervalued stock . Not that I’m predicting he’ll win,. Beyond that I just wanted to add my one little voice to the chorous of “pundits” who are trying to identify the strongest candidates in both parties, I think Kasich would be very formidable. I agree that Walker is bland and unexiting. But I don’t think he’d be disasterous as a candidate. We saw him at his worst as a public speaker during the Wisconsin public sector union crisis and the election recall — when he was under seige and looked like a deer in the headlights in many speeches. He won anyway. And since then, I’ve thought he’s been comptent, though bland, unexiiting and evasive in his interviews. Don’t know how well he thinks on his feet (in terms of how he’d do in debates). I think Kasich would do a lot better in debates. Yes, I did say that basd on what I know now (CYA words) that I think Walker has best chance. Sure, it could turn out to be Darryl Issa…oir Dino Rossi (Ha Ha). Thanks again, Russ, for elevating the discussion and holding my feet to the fire (so to speak). Best, Irv

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      1. Russ Lehman

        None…except through our mutual friend in Olympia. I very much hope he is ok and back writing as soon as possible.

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    2. Alex Maclachlan

      We heard through a cousin that is worried about him that a step son mentioned briefly he may have been hospitalized but gave no further details. No sign of him at his place so we are asking the cousin to make a check in request to local police. Don’t know if he is recovering from something or not, but has not replied to anyone’s contacts

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      1. Russ Lehman

        Alex, I understand that he was, and assume not presently, hospitalized. the last I heard, from Oly friend, was that he heard from Irv recently and that, while the communication was a bit brief, he (Irv) was to return home soon. Obviously things are not well. I am happy to share whit else I know (not much) in another venue. Try me at rlehman@earrthlink.net. Thanks

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      2. Norm Olson

        I have been a little bit in the middle wanting to respect Irv’s privacy and not wanting to be dishonest about what I know. His caregiver told me to be honest. Irv has been hospitalized for sometime. The primaries are having a meeting this Friday to consider releasing him. I don’t want to say anymore so I will let Irv continue as he chooses. All I have to say is that he has improved.

        Norm Olson

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  3. Norm Olson

    Irv: That was a well thought out blog. It would be SO NICE that both sides could vote FOR a candidate instead of voting against the worst evil. Extremism has only gotten us gridlock. I remember many years ago one retiring senator said that they fought like hell on the floor but then they went out for a beer later on. Progressives and Tea Partiers are never going to agree but we need to find a common ground.

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    1. Irv Lefberg Post author

      Absolutely, Norm. That’s spot on. There is so much now in our political system has practically institutionalized gridlock and dysfunction, that I don’t see a way out of it soon. Appreciate your comment

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    2. Alex Maclachlan

      Thank you Norm, for the update. I will update those who are concerned for Irv. They will be relieved to know he is being taken care of and will hope for his improvement.

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