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What's Next for John Kasich After Trump's Presidential Victory?

Kasich speaks at the National Press Club

The shocking presidential win for Donald Trump changed a lot of plans on Election Day. That includes those of the last Republican in the race against him -- Gov. John Kasich. 

“I have decided to run for president of the United States," said John Kasich last July, when he announced he was running for president. Back then he had much different hopes of what he would be doing on Election Day.

But Donald Trump’s presidential win creates a much murkier future for Kasich, who had planned a major speech the day after the election in Washington, D.C., which he ended up cancelling. 

With polls suggesting Trump was going to lose to Hillary Clinton, many thought Kasich would position himself as the new leader of the Republican Party.

Ohio's relationship with D.C.
Instead, Republican strategist Mike Gonidakis - - who had supported Kasich before Trump got the nomination -- thinks Kasich needs to take a step back and figure out what the Trump vote means for his own leadership.

“John Kasich has to speak to Ohioans, and he has to talk to them because what we have is his path and we have the path that Ohio chose. I support our governor; I continue to support our governor, but he needs to have conversations with Ohioans,” Gonidakis said.

Trump’s Ohio campaign Director Bob Paduchik fought to win the Buckeye State with high-ranking Republicans such as Kasich and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman withholding their support.

As Paduchik explains, the Trump win shows that the power of the party was not controlled by Kasich.

“We got it done because the real strength in the Ohio political machine for the Republicans is with the county GOP chairs, the local county elected officials, the Trump chairs in those counties, volunteers like the folks who are in this room behind me,” Paduchik said.

With Trump scoring a more than 8-percentage-point win in Ohio, Kasich's opposition to Trump looks very risky in hindsight. So there's not a lot of talk among Ohio Republicans about Kasich having a future right now.

But Trump supporters who may think that Kasich’s political days are over might be getting ahead of themselves. Longtime political reporter and columnist Tom Suddes says most people don’t latch onto certain things once the election season ends.

“With all due respect to the electorate, our memories are short about somethings. And I’m not sure the endorsement or non-endorsement of presidential candidates sticks in the craw of that many people. It will stick in the craw of some, and it will get in the way of the governor going up the ladder politically but no telling but I don’t think it’ll be a huge obstacle,” Suddes said.

Kasich for Senate?
Suddes thinks Kasich might consider a run at the U.S. Senate and challenge Democrat incumbent Sherrod Brown in 2018.

Paul Beck, a political science professor at the Ohio State University, says Kasich’s future greatly hinges whether Trump is effective in the White House.

One big issue is healthcare. Beck believes President-Elect Trump can get a lot of flak from Ohio and Kasich if he repeals and replaces ObamaCare with a plan that doesn’t work.

“That left a lot of the Ohioans without insurance that could be a really touchy issue between Kasich and the White House and the Congress itself,” Beck said.

Beck adds that it could’ve been worse for Kasich had Clinton won Ohio and the presidency.

“Certainly if she won by a narrow margin, then a lot of Republicans would be thinking – both leaders and ordinary Republican voters – that if it weren’t for Kasich, Trump would’ve been a winner and that would actually sow a lot of bitterness,” Beck said.

Kasich, who once again did not return a request for comment, still has two years left in his term as governor with his last budget coming next year.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.