A New Underdog Takes Center Stage

John Kasich is the only candidate for the presidency who has been kicked out of a Grateful Dead concert for attempting to get on stage. He has more than that going for him, of course. With the suspension of Marco Rubio’s campaign, there’s a new underdog in town and his name is John Kasich. Who’s that? You may ask. Well, you may remember Kasich from 2000; he ran for president then, too. Now, he’s ready to give it another try this year. Thus far, the numbers don’t favor Kasich. Trump weighs in at 678 delegates, Cruz has 423, and Kasich brings up the rear with 143. In the latest ABC/Washington Post polls, John Kasich comes in with 13% of potential votes, a small lead over the 10% that are still unsure of who they will support in the primaries.

Kasich’s political career began early. Kasich was deemed a political prodigy when he met with President Nixon at the age of eighteen. His political career later officially began when he was only twenty-six; Kasich was the youngest person elected to the Ohio senate in history. He served as a member of the Ohio State Senate from 1979 to 1983, and on the House of Representatives from 1983 to 2001. In this time, he developed a reputation for his aggressive and zealous personality, especially concerning wasteful spending.

On the issues, Kasich is very clear on some of his positions. For instance, Kasich is strongly against abortion - having de-funded numerous organizations, and signed sixteen anti-abortion measures into law. When it comes to other issues, he has shown that he is capable of changing his mind over time. He has become more moderate in regards to same-sex marriage; despite being against it, he believes “the court has ruled and it’s time [for the Republican Party] to move on.”

Kasich's perspective on illegal immigration has changed as well. Whereas he was once against amnesty, he is has shown consideration towards path to citizenship plans. He referred to Trump’s plan for the wall along the Mexican border as “just crazy.” He’s see-sawed on climate change, acknowledging it is a real problem, then just moments afterward claiming that he does not know the cause, and does not want the EPA to regulate carbon emissions. Kasich supports the Keystone XL oil pipeline project and increased taxes on fracking.

Kasich considers himself an agent of change. After two fatal police shootings of a boy and young adult, both wielding only BB guns, Kasich created a committee to address Ohioan’s concerns, and said he would consider attaching cameras to police. Kasich is a strong supporter of criminal justice reform, and is given credit by many for Ohio prisons’ low recidivism rate. He created bills which aided ex-felons in finding work, and emphasized rehabilitation over punishment for those convicted of nonviolent crimes. He also insists that there are too many mentally ill inmates who need medical help.

Kasich is also touted for private-sector job growth. He is campaigning for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In general, he wants to shrink the government and its influence, giving states and localities more control over their own governance. He believes he can set up a plan to balance the budget in eight years, and he wants to cut taxes for families and businesses.

In the 2016 election, Kasich is viewed as the alternative to Cruz’s extremism and Trump’s lack of experience. Kasich has experience in balancing the federal budget, foreign policy, and economic revitalization. As a moderate, Kasich considers himself a formidable opponent to the Democrats in that he could attract independents and swing voters. Although Kasich has developed a reputation for being difficult to work with, he is promoting a personal image of an optimistic, relaxed, and family man for his campaign.

Kasich did not win any of the 22 first primaries and caucuses, but he did gain momentum when he won his home state Ohio, and 66 respective delegates. Here’s a fact that supports Kasich’s chances: no Republican has ever become president without the support of Ohio. Some urge Kasich to drop out, as he is a “distraction,” and this is now a “two-man race.” Still, Kasich has the support of many in the GOP and hopes to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention. The chances of no candidate having enough delegates to win, though, is low; it hasn’t happened since 1952.

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