Ohio State Treasurer and 2014 Senate nominee Josh Mandel has come out with a 2016 presidential endorsement and it’s not fellow Buckeye and current governor John Kasich. Focusing on foreign policy, the former Marine and Iraq vet wrote a column in the Daily Caller praising the vision and worldview of [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]. As if placing an exclamation mark on this very point, Drudge had a top-line story this morning named “Rubio schools reporters, Jeb on foreign policy.”
Rubio is a fine choice and Mandel makes a solid argument that illustrates Rubio’s strongest points: he’s an articulate defender of American ideals and of conservatism in general. There is a lot to like about Rubio which keeps him in my top five candidates and I’d be excited about backing Rubio in the general election. Other top candidates like Cruz, Walker, Carson, and even Bush, do not have the foreign policy moxie of Rubio, and if Mandel sees world events as the defining issue of the election and he feels strongly that Rubio leads the field on that issue then he is almost obligated to make an endorsement this early.
So where does this leave the Kasich campaign? Kasich seems to very popular in a straw poll of Sunday morning talking heads and will certainly get endorsements and grassroots help from each of the 88 county Republican Party heads. I’m sure a number of Republican passers-by will vote for Kasich in the primary, but conservative activists in Ohio are NOT going to be on board. Kasich’s “executive order” method of implementing Medicaid Expansion and his incredibly dismissive attitude toward those who oppose Common Core are litmus test deal-busters. And while Ohio’s budget is more in balance, spending has been growing at levels that make Democrats jealous.
Conservatives need to talk about this “Favorite Son” campaign that seems to be developing. I just heard that former New York governor George Pataki might get into the race. WHY? Same with Michigan’s Rick Snyder? [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ]? I can foresee a wargame scenario where Jeb may be unable to win the nomination on his own accord, so a divided convention would be the next best way to get him to the White House. An expanded field will lower the threshold for a candidate to win the state. Remember 2008? Fred Thompson and Rudy Guliani, both great guys but not-so-great candidates, were not going to win SC or FL but stayed in the race allowing [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] to win both states with 35% of the vote giving him momentum on Super Tuesday. Imagine if Huckabee won SC and Romney won FL. Now those two would be fighting on Super Tuesday with McCain struggling for relevance.
Tea parties and conservative groups in each of their states need to begin discussing a way to coalesce around a single candidate. The coalescence doesn’t need to happen until the end of the year, but these conversations need to begin happening now. Rubio is not my top guy right now, but what would I do if Ohio conservatives lean toward Rubio? Would I give up voting for Cruz or Walker to join Ohio conservatives?
My answer is a solid YES! We cannot afford to support a person who is clearly not gaining traction in the polls. Winners in the early states may not get 30% and certainly won’t get 40% as long as the field is crowded. If conservatives are split, then Bush, Graham, Kasich all have a better shot at taking different states.
If conservatives are unified, even at the expense of some great candidates, then we can more easily get that person to the final GOP nomination.
(photo of Josh Mandel)
*Updated 7:30pm. Matt Borges, the Ohio Republican Party chairman, is proving to be as thin-skinned and petty as everything you’ve come to expect from the Ohio Republican Party. Borges expects that all Ohio Republican legislators and county party heads will unify behind a John Kasich presidential campaign, and he seethed with disgust this morning as he read of Mandel’s endorsement of Rubio. http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2015/05/connecting_the_political_dots.html
The article gets it right in that Mandel may not have endorsed Kasich even if he becomes an official candidate, and Borges can be sure that he will get near unanimity with Ohio GOP establishment support for Kasich. The Ohio Republican Party is not one that is friendly toward individual thought, and they have also shown to be openly hostile to conservative ideology. They are about raising money, catching votes, and remaining in political power.
I’m reminded of an image of an angry little man screaming “You can’t disagree with me!” with the singular response “That is why I disagree with you.” Thanks Borges for this clarifying anecdote.