COLUMBUS (AP) — Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich was set to return Tuesday to New Hampshire, where a second-place finish in the 2016 presidential primaries gave him a welcome boost in national popularity.
Such moves bolster speculation that Kasich is considering a challenge to Republican President Donald Trump in 2020.
The term-limited governor and former congressman has been one of Trump’s most outspoken Republican detractors. He has spent much of Trump’s presidency preaching civility in politics and cultivating a reputation as a pragmatic bipartisan deal-maker.
Kasich has joined Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in spearheading a series of policy compromises on key issues — health care, immigration, guns — that a coalition of governors of both parties have sent to Congress.
He’s recently appeared in both Ohio and California with friend and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to speak against today’s hyperpartisanship and to promote bipartisan redistricting proposals aimed at addressing the gerrymandering of maps that many blame for today’s deeply divided politics.
Last fall, Kasich appeared with former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden at an event promoting the need for bipartisanship.
Martin O’Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland who dropped out of the 2016 presidential race just before the New Hampshire primary, also returned to the Granite State for his second appearance at the New England Council’s “Politics & Eggs” lecture series at Saint Anselm College on Tuesday.
O’Malley called Trump “the most effective tool for candidate recruitment we’ve ever had” and said he’s confident the country will emerge stronger after this “temporary time.”
Kasich also has restored Ohio’s membership in the National Governors Association, a bipartisan policy organization that he left amid a partisan wave in 2011.
An invoice produced in response to a public records request by The Associated Press showed Ohio re-joined the group as of January for the first time in eight years.
When Ohio left in 2011, it was among a group of GOP-led states, including Texas, South Carolina and Idaho, that declined to pay dues ranging on a sliding scale from about $20,000 to about $175,000 a year.
They cited the down economy and said skipping the dues payments was a way to balance budgets and cut government costs.
The $88,000 membership renewal came after the AP first sought records on Ohio’s membership status in the group. The AP’s request was made on Nov. 15 and the dues were paid Dec. 22.
Kasich spokesman Jon Keeling said the governor’s relationship with the association’s chairman is an important factor in the decision to renew now.
“The governor has a strong working relationship and friendship with current NGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval,” he said, noting that Sandoval has been part of a group of governors working to solve “critical issues facing our states and our nation.”