Politics & Policy

The Not-So-Nice Kasich, Killing GOP Hopes

Kasich at a town hall in Savage, Md., April 13, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

First, there was Jim Gilmore. Then, there was Ben Carson. Now, there’s John Kasich. This Republican nomination cycle boasted a bumper crop of candidates with delusions of grandeur. Two of them, at least, had the sense to pack it in.

Not the governor of Ohio, who has already been mathematically eliminated from securing the Republican nomination outright. At present, John Kasich has won only one state (his home state) and four — count ’em: four — non–Buckeye State counties. He hasn’t won a delegate since March 15. And one week after Ohio, he came in fourth in Arizona in a three-man race, losing by 23,000 votes to Marco Rubio, who by then had dropped out.

What’s the opposite of momentum?

RELATED: Why Won’t John Kasich Go Away?

With Republicans preparing for a string of states likely to prove friendly to Donald Trump — New York, Trump’s home state, votes next Tuesday, followed a week later by the “Acela Corridor” (Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland) and Pennsylvania — this might seem like Kasich’s time to shine. He’s a moderate man for moderate states, right? Maybe not. A new PPP poll has Kasich up on Cruz in New York by just five percentage points (25 to 20), and a recent Fox News poll has Kasich leading Cruz by just two points — and both of them lapped by Trump.

One gets the impression that Kasich isn’t even trying to win.

Meanwhile, one gets the impression that Kasich isn’t even trying to win. The governor failed to file a full slate of delegates for the Maryland primary, meaning that even if Kasich wins the state, he won’t be able to claim all of its delegates. At RedState, Moe Lane wrote in March: “There’s no really good way to say this, so I’ll just be blunt: Depending on where you live in Maryland, you will be provably throwing away your vote if you vote for John Kasich” (the emphasis is his).

And recall: This is the same candidate who didn’t collect enough signatures to get on the ballot in Illinois or Pennsylvania. (The only reason his name appeared in Illinois is that no candidate challenged him; and in Pennsylvania, the Rubio camp dropped its challenge.)

#share#If Kasich’s “strategy” is unclear, so is his ultimate aim. Maybe he thinks he can win at a contested convention, that 1,237 delegates come to their senses in Cleveland and spirit him to the nomination on the basis of his generally favorable polling against Hillary Clinton in hypothetical head-to-head matchups. The GOP nomination might be “a bizarre process,” as Kasich said on CNN earlier this week. But it’s not that bizarre.

RELATED: #NeverKasich

Or maybe he thinks he can capture enough delegates to be the convention’s kingmaker and perhaps wheedle his way onto the ticket. It’s not impossible. It’s also not likely.

Or maybe he just likes the attention of running a presidential campaign.

Whatever the case, enough — enough of Kasich’s “Aww shucks, America!” schtick, enough of his “Fight the Darkness” Alzheimer’s ads, enough of his using Jesus to defend his policies, as if the Good Lord personally endorsed him on Fox.

It’s long past time for Kasich to go.

#related#Since it became clear that Donald Trump was going to Hulk-smash his way through the Republican field, this race has depended on a final showdown, a chance for someone to go mano a mano with him. Maybe, in that situation, forlorn Kasich and Carson and Rubio voters would flock to Trump, and he would punch through his ceiling. But maybe they wouldn’t, and he would stay at 35 or 40 percent — and lose. For those interested in stopping Trump, rallying behind one capable candidate has long been the best option, and Ted Cruz has demonstrated the discipline and the organization to take on Trump nationwide.

But Kasich has made that impossible. Instead of allowing for voters and donors opposed to Trump to consolidate, he has chosen to dilute the effort by siphoning off votes and money and airtime, all in a deluded quest to convince people he’s the “Prince of Light and Hope.”

Donald Trump may be a malevolent force. But this Ohio Don Quixote is not going to be the one to slay him. And the longer he stays in, the more damage he does to the one candidate who might.

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