Reflections on Kasich from Florida

The March 15 presidential primary demonstrated huge differences between Ohio and Florida voters, at least through the eyes of this Cleveland area snowbird temporarily living in the Sunshine State.

While Governor John Kasich handily won the Ohio primary, Senator Marco Rubio suffered a humiliating loss in Florida, finishing almost 20 percentage points behind Donald Trump, and was forced to drop out of the race. I had always considered Rubio an attractive candidate. He was articulate, energetic, and seemed to have a grasp of the issues, particularly foreign policy. True, he made a few gaffes and had one disastrous debate performance, but I thought he had a lot going for him.

But after I arrived in Florida in early February, I’ve seen only lukewarm support for Rubio. Informal conversations with permanent Florida residents as well as fellow snowbirds indicated that a lot of people feel Rubio is not ready for prime time. He’s too young, some say. He might be ready in four more years. Others point to his poor voting record, and say, “What’s he done?”

I was stunned when the Palm Beach Post endorsed Kasich over favorite son Rubio and “part time Palm Beacher” Donald Trump. After the election, the Post published an editorial headed “Rubio’s own (in)actions hurt him in Fla. Primary.” Many of the Floridians I’ve talked to look favorably on Kasich, even though no one thinks he has a chance of winning the nomination.

Some anti-Trump Republicans wanted both Rubio and Kasich to get out of the race, arguing that Ted Cruz would have a better chance in a two-man contest. But I see it differently. Kasich carried the important state of Ohio, denying Trump 66 delegates in the winner-take-all race. If the Governor hadn’t been a candidate, it’s probable that Trump would have won Ohio, as he did Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, and (narrowly) Missouri.

It’s questionable how far Kasich will go in the presidential sweepstakes. But whatever happens he can take satisfaction in the fact that he outlasted several better-known governors.