John Kasich Declares for the 2016 Election: Here Are 7 Things You Should Know


The latest presidential hopeful to enter the hodgepodge that is the 2016 Republican Party candidate pool is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a hard-nosed Republican with a staunchly conservative resume whose name is virtually unknown to voters outside his state.

Kasich had earlier hinted at a run for the White House, but his formal announcement came Tuesday during a kickoff rally at Ohio State University. Here's what to know about the presidential election's 16th entrant to the ever-expanding GOP primaries:

1. Kasich is popular in Ohio. 

The latest Quinnipiac University poll showed 60% of Ohioans approve of Kasich. Another recent poll put his approval rating among Ohio Republicans at 72%. Kasich was first elected to the governor's post in 2010 and went on to win re-election four years later with majorities in 86 of Ohio's 88 counties, including such Democratic strongholds as Cleveland and Toledo, according to the Los Angeles Times.

What he lacks in national recognition (recent polling showed that 42% of Republicans primary voters didn't even know his name, according to the Wall Street Journal) he has made up for with a reputation among his constituents for getting the job done.

2. Unemployment in Ohio during his tenure has fallen. 

Kasich boasts he took Ohio's jobless rate from 9.4% in 2009 to 5.1% now. While he can't claim all the credit for turning Ohio's job economy around, it did happen under his watch, and that's certainly something he'll use as a selling point with voters.

3. He's turned Ohio's budget around. 

Kasich's administration has frequently touted turning a multibillion-dollar state deficit into a $1.5 billion surplus. That kind of economic recovery is sure to strike a chord with Republican primary voters.

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4. Kasich supports Common Core. 

Kasich has supported national Common Core standards for education, something other Republicans have lambasted as government intrusion, the New York Times reported.

5. He's conservative on social issues. 

Kasich is anti-abortion (except in the case of rape or incest) and relatively pro-immigration — compared to other GOP candidates, that is. He voted to expand visas for skilled immigrant workers and has urged others in his party to work with President Barack Obama on immigration reform. He is for "traditional marriage" but did not raise hell like other Republicans in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage.

"I do believe in traditional marriage, but the court has ruled, and it's time to move on," Kasich told Face the Nation on CBS.

6. Kasich was one of the few Republican governors to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. 

Kasich faced criticism from other GOP governors around the country for expanding Medicaid coverage in Ohio under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. His embrace of Medicaid expansion is perhaps his greatest weakness in a crowded field of Republican candidates who have denounced the law.

7. A real shot? 

There's speculation that Kasich could charge ahead in the polls. His popularity in Ohio, a state that any Republican presidential hopeful would want to win if they want a real chance at the White House, provides him with a strong argument that he could be a formidable candidate in the general election.

One thing that may backfire for Kasich was his cozy relationship with Wall Street. He spent several years as a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, the failed financial firm that triggered the financial crisis when it collapsed in 2008. Kasich has spoken fondly of his time at Lehman, saying he had a "fantastic time" in a recent interview. Democrats have been quick to seize on this line when condemning him.

But the most important question Republicans are considering: Who has the best shot at defeating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Kasich's argument is that his style of conservatism is best suited to attracting a large segment of the electorate while remaining true to conservative principles. His record in Ohio seems to bear that out.