Eyes on 2020? Ohio GOP governor, Democratic senator mulling

Eyes on 2020? Ohio GOP governor, Democratic senator mulling
Posted at 1:51 PM, Nov 17, 2018

CINCINNATI (AP) -- An all-Ohio presidential election in 2020?

You would get very long odds in Vegas against that happening. It is possible, though, with two of the state's most popular politicians considering runs.

Republican Gov. John Kasich says he hasn't decided about 2020, but he has probably had more Sunday morning TV airtime the past couple years than most televangelists. He's well-acquainted with the early primary state of New Hampshire, where he returned Thursday for a series of public appearances.

After comfortably winning re-election Nov. 6 for his third term in the U.S. Senate, Democrat Sherrod Brown acknowledged Monday he has gotten a lot of encouragement and is now "seriously looking" at running for president.

With insights from Josh Pasek, a political scientist who's just to the north at the University of Michigan, here are reasons why such a 2020 showdown might happen. And why it probably won't.


Since joining the 2016 Republican presidential race more than three years ago, Kasich has presented himself as the contrast to Donald Trump. He has rebuked Trump for divisiveness. He has trolled him back on Twitter about links to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Kasich has said the Trump-era Republican Party has moved away from traditional GOP principles. He has shown willingness to break with his party by expanding Medicaid in Ohio through Democratic President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

If the special counsel probe, new investigations looming from a Democratic-majority House and-or Trump's combative style causes Republicans to seek an alternative, well, Kasich's standing right over there.


In 2016, Kasich defeated Trump in only one primary — Ohio's.

Short of impeachment, an economic plunge or other crisis, it's extremely unlikely that Republicans would give up on a sitting president, especially one who has shown political resilience.

Pasek said the Kasich-Trump rivalry "really is a battle for what the future of the Republican Party is" and there were signs this month that some suburban voters have Trump fatigue. But Trump still has the upper hand.

Kasich keeps flirting publicly with an independent or third-party run. History is against him there.


Trump knocked down the "Blue Wall" states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016 while decisively winning Brown's home state, traditionally a swing state. Brown, a former congressman whose won his first Ohio election in 1974, has shown the kind of populist, blue-collar appeal that Trump garnered in those states. He also has a long liberal record to please the party's traditional base.

Brown has proven ability to attract big-time special-interest campaign donations. He has withstood negative ad barrages in recent campaigns. While Republicans swept the other partisan statewide offices on Election Day, Brown got more votes than any of them and had 53 percent of the total.

Pasek says Brown isn't familiar to many rank-and-file Democrats outside of Ohio, but he added that's not necessarily a bad thing. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are among other Democrats who weren't well-known nationally at this stage of their presidential campaign cycles.


After an election remarkable for the successes of Democratic candidates of diverse gender, race and sexuality, a 66-year-old white guy from Ohio might not excite people. Pasek says there are "a lot of competing visions" in the Democratic Party at this point, and it's not clear yet where Brown fits in.

There's also the question of whether Brown has the "fire in the belly" to pursue the presidency. Running means many very long days of retail campaigning, many nights on the road in Iowa and New Hampshire. Brown has joked that rather than being president, his life's dream was to be centerfielder for the Cleveland Indians.


It's happened. Republican Sen. Warren G. Harding, from the community of Blooming Grove some 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of Columbus, defeated Democratic Gov. James Cox , from the village of Jacksonburg, nearly 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Dayton. The 100th anniversary of that election will be in 2020.