The Republican presidential contender everyone is overlooking:
But there's one candidate who isn't generating much buzz and whose résumé compares favorably with any of the top-tier candidates. He's a battleground-state governor who's looking in strong position to win a second term. He defeated one of the more popular Democratic governors in the country, who happened to be a major Clinton ally. He's from the Midwest, likely to be the critical region in the 2016 presidential election. He entered office as a prominent fiscal conservative but compromised on Medicaid expansion. And most important, Republican officials familiar with his thinking say he's seriously considering a presidential campaign.
Enter Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the swing-state executive who's currently polling at microscopic levels nationally but who could have an outsized impact on the 2016 race.
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By all accounts, Kasich shouldn't be considered a sleeper. As governor, he's presided over a Rust Belt renaissance, with the state's unemployment rate dropping from one of the highest in the country in 2009 (10.6 percent) to around the national average (7.2 percent) last month. In 2013, Kasich signed a sizable tax cut thanks to the state's newfound budget surplus. Kasich was among the first Republicans to tout the party's need to reach out to the disadvantaged, and he lived up to his rhetoric by passing prison-sentencing reform with support from African-American legislators.
Most of the buzz in GOP circles is about up-and-coming members of Congress, like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Except for Chris Christie, governors aren't getting much of a look. And they should get more attention, because goodness knows we could use a chief executive with some actual executive experience. And Midwestern values might be just what the Washington cesspool needs.