After refusing to endorse Trump, how will Kasich and Portman fare now that he's president elect?

Posted at 10:27 AM, Nov 11, 2016

It was a political gamble for Republican leaders to condemn Donald Trump in his bid for the White House.

Now that Trump is president-elect, many Ohioans are wondering what this means for his vocal GOP opponents, especially Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rob Portman.

Just hours after Trump proved the polls wrong to win the presidency, Kasich and Portman both sent out tweets congratulating him on his victory.

Kasich, who made no secret of his disdain for Trump throughout the campaign, put out a simple message: “The American people have spoken and it’s time to come together. Congratulations President-elect @realdonaldtrump."

Then on Thursday, Kasich went even further, asking for prayers to ensure Trump's success as president.

Portman, who revoked his endorsement of Trump, posted a welcoming message: “I congratulate Donald Trump on his historic election victory last night and I look forward to working with him … on a whole range of issues … I’m pleased President-Elect Trump has already begun that process of reaching out to all Americans with his inclusive victory speech last night.”

It is unknown whether Trump will accept their olive branches, and how their refusal to endorse him will mark their political futures.

“I think Gov. Kasich will reach out, I think Senator Portman will reach out because they all understand that now is the time to govern,” said Doug Moormann, a Cincinnati Republican strategist. “Politics is politics but … people understand they have to set aside those political issues and govern the country and govern their state.”

U.S. Senator Rob Portman easily won re-election in Ohio.

Experts say the vocal feud between Trump and Kasich may be harder to forgive and forget.

Early on, Kasich not only refused to endorse Trump, he said he wouldn’t vote for him.  Kasich later told reporters that he wrote in Sen. John McCain's name instead.

Kasich also refused to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, despite being the home state governor.

And weeks before the election, Kasich called Trump’s claims of a possible rigged election “silly.”

"To say that elections are rigged and all these votes are stolen, that's like saying we never landed on the moon. That's how silly it is," Kasich said on a morning news show.

It was a political gamble that may have backfired on Kasich, said Paul Beck, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University.

“He was betting that Trump wouldn’t be around in 2020,” Beck said. “I really think (Kasich’s) chances of being the Republican presidential nominee in 2020 were pretty much dashed by Trump’s victory.”

As Kasich finishes out his last term as governor, it is unlikely he will have any direct contact with Trump. But as Kasich looks to his political future after 2018, his criticism of Trump may come back to haunt him, especially if he decides to run against Sen. Sherrod Brown for his seat, or make a another presidential run in 2020.

“Many Republicans are angry with Kasich for not supporting Trump,” Beck said. “You can imagine the opposition to Kasich in 2020 will bring that up.”

Portman will have more direct dealings with Trump going forward, especially if the U.S. Senate takes up Trump priorities such as overhauling trade deals and repealing Obamacare.

Because Portman distanced himself from Trump in a much quieter way than Kasich, experts predict the two will have an easier time mending fences.

Although Portman endorsed Trump, he would not take the stage at the convention. He opted instead to build houses near the Cleveland arena for Habitat for Humanity.

Portman rescinded his endorsement of Trump on Oct. 8 in the aftermath of the release of a 2005 video showing Trump making vulgar and extremely lewd comments about women. He said he would vote for Mike Pence for President.

“The real question is: Does this matter to Trump?” Beck said. “Portman, he’s not so upset about. But he’s very upset about Kasich.”

This likely won’t affect Portman’s political future because he is so popular in Ohio and just won an overwhelming re-election to another six-year term, Beck said.

“He’s not up for re-election until 2022, which in the political world is a long time,” Beck said. “And he wasn’t as visible in his opposition to Trump as John Kasich was.”

If Trump wants to build a coalition of Republicans who embrace his ideas, he will want as much support as he can get.

“Right now if you’re Trump, you’re already thinking, 'What do we have to do to get re-elected in four years?'” said Gary Cates, a Republican former Ohio state senator. “Donald Trump needs Republicans at the state level, and he needs Republicans in Congress … he’s going to have a very limited time to get his agenda approved.”

Moormann agreed, saying he believes both sides will “let bygones will be bygones.”

“Hopefully they’ll build a relationship together because John Kasich continues to be the governor of the seventh largest state in the country and he’s an important part of the process,” said Moormann, a vice president at Government Strategies Group. “But there’s almost 2.8 million people here that voted for Donald Trump … Ohio was an important part of his winning calculation, so I think in the aggregate Ohio will do alright.”