How long can John Kasich last? That’s the question on many insider’s minds after the Ohio Governor’s second place showing in New Hampshire earlier this week. So far, this Republican nomination cycle has been about moderate and Establishment Republicans seeking in vain for a candidate who can defeat frontrunner Donald Trump. Just last week it was Marco Rubio after he came third in Iowa. But his weak finish in New Hampshire has given donors pause.
So this week’s flavor is John Kasich. But the Kasich campaign had just $2.5 million on hand on January 31st. Throw in outside groups supporting him and the total rises to $4.5 million – but that’s far less than Rubio ($24.7 million), Ted Cruz ($50.9 million) or Jeb! ($66.5 million). And the prospects of getting a significant cash infusion soon don’t look good. Too many mega-donors have seen their donations go up in smoke and are taking a wait and see approach.
Big donors don’t like Trump but are tired of throwing good money after bad supporting candidate who can’t get any traction. So while the money men might be expected to write big checks to Super-Pacs supporting Kasich where there are no maximum contribution limits, for now many are content to take a test-drive by donating the maximum $2,700 individual contribution to the Kasich’s campaign committee directly.
For example, Minnesota billionaire Stan Hubbard and his wife, who had given $105,000 to PACs supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, gave Ohio Governor Josh Kasich $2,700 after he came second in New Hampshire. Anything helps, but Kasich’s under-capitalized campaign can’t compete when the money slows to a trickle. They can’t afford to spend on radio or television or build the Get Out The Vote infrastructure that campaigns like Cruz, Rubio, and Jeb! have in place. According to Politico, “Hubbard said he planned to wait to see how Kasich did in the upcoming primaries before writing a check to his super PAC — and fundraising sources said that’s the way that many free agent GOP mega-donors are approaching the tumultuous primary.”
Many of the donors who usually write big checks but whose first choice candidates have dropped out flirted with Rubio after he came third in Iowa, but after last week’s debate meltdown and the ensuing “Marcobot” controversy followed closely by a weak showing in New Hampshire many are content to wait at least until after South Carolina – if not later. This puts Kasich in a tough situation. Not only is he short of money – he’s not competitive in South Carolina which will slow the momentum he picked up in New Hampshire.
Kasich’s campaign strategy is to just muddle through South Carolina on February 20th, Nevada a week later, and then the 11-state SEC primary on March 1st in hopes of reaching what he thinks is friendlier ground in the Midwest, including his home state of Ohio, later in the month. But with big money donors staying on the sidelines Kasich’s second place showing in New Hampshire is likely to be soon forgotten.
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