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John Kasich: Campaign Ninja

I like Kyle Sisk. He’s a smart guy and has done a great job utilizing his old contacts from his fundraising days to provide solid insight into Ohio politics. But one of his more recent posts, explaining his frustration regarding John Kasich’s potential candidacy for Ohio Governor, seemed to be just a weeeee bit over the top.

“…you will need $15-20 million to win this campaign. First, people need to know who you are. Secondly, they have to know why you are better than the other guy. With the way your numbers look I hope you are planning on raising $20 million.

As Galloway said, “You had us at hello.” This flirting with running for Gov, dinners at Thiebaut’s(DJ note: It’s ‘Thibaut’) house, Recharge Ohio blah blah blah has been going on since the end of 2006.

You have been flirting for over 26 months with running for Gov in 2010.

This is “line in the sand” time.

Are you running or not? That is a simple question. Why can’t we get a simple answer?!?!?!?!?!?

If you are running then run. We are 100% behind you. I get no pleasure bashing on you, but this is starting to enter the realm of being ridiculous.”

Ridiculous? I don’t think someone has been paying attention. The reality is this — John Kasich has set the stage for what should be the best statewide campaign since Voino in 1988.

This effort has been much bigger than a couple dinners and a website, as Kyle portrays. Beginning in 2007 and through March of 2009, Kasich has spoken or will have spoken at 45 County Lincoln Day Dinners or similar Party activist events. Attendance at these events has averaged out at about 400. That’s 18,000 people. What’s important to note is that these 18,000 aren’t just regular voters. These are Party leaders, grassroots coordinators, fundraisers and combinations thereof. The very people that need to be inspired to work hard to make sure victory is assured in November of 2010.

It would be easy to say that these people can be counted on already. There is no need to waste time courting folks that will already help you, just as they help each campaign cycle, right? But as a campaign veteran I can tell you there is a ginormous difference between Party activists who feel obligated to help you and Party activists that WANT to help you. A perfect example would be what we saw at the Ohio McCain HQ in 2008 vs. Ohio Bush HQ in 2004. This past election cycle we saw row after row of empty GOTV phone lines. In 2004, there were lines of volunteers out the door. Hell, we had so many volunteers in 2004 that we had to ask some to make GOTV calls on their cellulars in the hall since we were out of phone lines.

Activists need to want to win. And speaking as someone who has attended one of these Kasich events, there is a fire that goes through the room after John speaks. I even recall one friend saying, “shit, I’m ready to advance a Bus Tour right now.” Ah, those are always….fun. But I digress….

Sisk worries about John raising the funds necessary to win. Yes, admittedly Kasich is already $2 million down to Strickland, but that can quickly be made up. As Sisk knows, much of the fundraising battle is about establishing commitments from your big money donors and organizing a finance committee dedicated to helping to raise dollars. Recharge Ohio undoubtedly has prepared this network and will be ready to fully utilize its capabilities immediately upon announcing.

This ‘flirting’, as Kyle calls it, is so much more than that. It is the establishment of a campaign firmly rooted in inspired Party activists who will work their asses off at the grassroots level and into the development of a well-networked fundraising base.

Hopefully we can count on the campaign officially kicking off in the next few months, and in the meantime the Kasich camp must continue what they’ve been doing — increasing the buzz, inspiring the Party activists, readying the fundraising machine and developing the policy solutions that will bring Ohio out of the hole of which Gov. Strickland has refused to pull us out.

These aren’t rookies. They know what they’re doing.

And they’re taking back Ohio.

UPDATE: I wanted to respond to Kyle’s comment (thanks for reading, Kyle!) and new blogpost. In his recent post he states:

“Has this whole thing just been one big publicity blitz for Kasich to build a following for his Fox TV appearances and to help him sell a lot of books???

Think about it for a second.

John Kasich hanging out at a Borders bookstore on a Friday night in February would give him an audience of 50-75 people of all ages and all political backgrounds (not the best target-rich environment).

I’m sure Grand Central Publishing (Kasich’s publisher) was absolutely giddy when he told them that instead of sitting in Borders on a Friday night he could put himself in front of hundreds upon hundreds of 18-80 year old, like-minded GOPers for a cost of zero dollars and zero effort other than just showing up.”

Kyle, I love ya man, but this is kind of talk just doesn’t make any kind of sense. Doing this to build publicity for his Fox News appearances? To sell books?

If Kasich was worried about making money, he’d just sit back and enjoy his Lehman Bros. gig and exploit the contacts he has made over the years to continue making very well-earned money. But he isn’t. You think his book is what is paying for his mortgage? I seriously doubt it. As for the ‘building an audience’ comment, I doubt he’s worried about increasing his audience by 18,000 people.

There is a rhyme and reason for Kasich’s strategy. Trying to shove him into a different one only damages what he has been trying to build the past two years.

Finally, knowing John the way many Ohio Republican political hacks know John, we all know he can’t be shoved into doing anything he doesn’t want to do. If we want him to win, we need to work together to build the best possible environment for him to enter the race the right way and in the best position. Trying to change public sentiment about his motivations is not the way to go about it.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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