On 2020, Kasich Says All Options, Even a Third Party Run, Are on the Table

Nov 15, 2018

Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks to reporters during a stop Thursday in New Hampshire.
Credit Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

When Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich is in New Hampshire, as he has been twice this year, and when he’s asked about running for president, as he constantly is, he responds with “all of my options are on the table.”

And when he says all options, his list includes running, not running, and running as a third party candidate.

Kasich was invited to give a keynote speech Thursday night at the Nackey Loeb School’s 1st Amendment in Manchester. But he packed his New Hampshire schedule like he was campaigning. He had lunch with Saint Anselm students. He taped an interview with CNN at a diner. He visited Governor Chris Sununu. And he took at least one picture with a baby.

And so, in Concord, surrounded by past campaign staffers, one supporter, former U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey, shouted out: “Are you running for president? On which ticket? Republican or Independent?”

Kasich made a little news while on The View before the midterm election, telling hosts he thought there could be a chance for a third party candidate to jump in the 2020 race.

In New Hampshire Thursday, he said that the results of the midterm -- high turnout and apparent voting across party lines -- seemed to suggest there was an opening to run as an independent.

“I certainly haven’t given up on my Republican Party,” Kasich told Humphrey and other supporters. “Whoever can talk to whoever better is gonna prosper, and it might be, Gordon, that the parties are gonna be so wide apart that there’s a vast ocean of people in the middle. You don’t know.”

“I’m one,” Humphrey said.

And this is one of the big questions Kasich has to answer as he looks at all his options: How many people are in that ocean, and are there enough to justify the expense and energy it takes to run for president again?

Janet Stevens of Rye believes some New Hampshire voters, at least, are in that ocean. She was an alternate delegate for Kasich for the Republican National Convention and considers herself a “moderate, centrist Republican. Fiscally conservative, socially more centrist.” It’s partly why she was attracted to Kasich.

Stevens said she’s talked to people of varying political backgrounds who say they like Kasich. And after the midterm elections, where Republicans in New Hampshire lost control of both the House and Senate, Republicans could use a centrist like Kasich to help provide a needed boost to the party.

“I’m seeing a massive migration of millenials from our party, we’re losing college educated women. It’s alarming. My daughter, who is a freshman at Bowdoin, voted for Governor Sununu and said, that may be the only Republican she ever votes for. So I’m concerned,” she said.

But there are also many New Hampshire Republicans who are deeply committed to President Donald Trump, and are very dismissive of even the idea of a Republican challenger.

Kasich’s term as governor will end this year, and he said he’s still figuring out what he’ll be doing in January. But he suggested, before leaving, that he’d like to come back and visit New Hampshire again sometime soon.