The following is a guest editorial by Rusty Paul, former Georgia Republican Party Chairman and current Mayor of Sandy Springs.
It’s almost March and that means it’s bracket time! But I’m not talking about basketball; I’m talking about presidential politics, of course! This primary season has been unlike any other and I’ll go out on a limb by saying no one in America picked our GOP Primary Final Four: Kasich, Trump, Cruz and Rubio.
For those of us who follow politics closely, it’s easy to get caught up in the horserace and punditry. But I urge all Republicans to step back and remember why we have primary elections in the first place: to ensure we select the most prepared, most proven and most electable leader to represent our Party at the top of the ticket in November.
John Kasich, the conservative governor of Ohio, is that Republican candidate and he deserves the opportunity to prove himself in our political version of March Madness.
People have doubted John Kasich his entire life. They said he couldn’t balance the federal budget. He fought for a decade and got it done for the first time since man walked on the moon. They said he’d never be able to fix a broken “rust belt” state that was hemorrhaging jobs before he took over. His state budget is now running a surplus and Ohio has added over 400,000 jobs under his watch. Last year they said he’d never raise the money needed to get into the race for President. After he announced, the doubters immediately predicted that he would fail to make the first debate in Cleveland. When he not only made the primetime debate but also became the story out of the debate, they said he’d never make it to New Hampshire. He finished in second place, well ahead of the other non-Trump GOP candidates.
Lesson: Don’t doubt John Kasich.
Poll after poll shows John Kasich is the Republican best positioned to defeat Hillary Clinton in November. He’s up by 11 points nationally and 17 points in the must-win swing state of Ohio. In the fight for the Republican nomination, he’s within a few points of Trump and will win his home state on March 15. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, is losing to Trump in Florida by 16 points and is tied with Hillary in the Sunshine State.
So rather than rushing to crown someone as our GOP nominee before they’ve even proven they can win a single state, we should let our democracy run its course and complete our bracket as the voters have their say.
John Kasich enters March as an underdog and that’s okay. He’s been an underdog his entire life. I’m confident the voters will ultimately put their trust in the only Republican candidate with a proven, conservative record and John Kasich will be the leader representing us at the top of the ticket in November.