That’s one very clear way of describing John Kasich’s win over Governor Ted Strickland.
As we approach the Inauguration and the official beginning of A New Way and A New Day, I decided to take a quick look at just how rare a feat John Kasich was able to pull off back on November 2nd.
One data point we heard about quite a bit leading up to the election was “1974”. That was the last time an incumbent Governor lost in the state of Ohio when former Governor Jim Rhodes came back to lay the smack down on John Gilligan.
But what John Kasich accomplished goes back much farther than 36 years.
He beat Ted Strickland without having ever run for statewide office.
That just doesn’t happen in Ohio.
In fact, after speaking with the Ohio Historical Society, the last time an incumbent Governor lost to someone who had never run statewide in any capacity was 1914 when Frank Willis defeated Governor James Cox.
96 years and 33 elections ago*.
In other words, it ain’t an easy thing to do.
The reasons for such rarity are various, starting with the obvious – name identification. But it goes far beyond that. Having run statewide before, candidates have already had a chance to build up their fundraising network and grassroots organization. They’ve shaken hands, kissed the babies, and built the relationships necessary to make victory possible. On the other side, incumbents have stashed away cash to run, built a record, owned the bully pulpit, and had the time to develop a formidable statewide organization.
In other words, there is a reason the last time this happened the United States was still three years from entering World War I.
On November 2nd, John Kasich broke with tradition. Without ever having run for statewide office before, he defeated an entrenched incumbent.
Now I can’t wait to see what he does with the opportunity he earned.
One month until A New Day begins.
* – Until 1959, Governors served two year terms.