Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper have entertained the idea of forming a unity presidential ticket to run for the White House in 2020, a source involved the discussions tells CNN.
Under this scenario, Kasich, a Republican, and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, would run as independents with Kasich at the top of the ticket, said the source, who cautioned it has only been casually talked about.
“The idea of a joint ticket has been discussed, but not at an organizational or planning level,” said the source, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “What they are trying to show the country is that honorable people can disagree, but you can still problem solve together. It happens in businesses and it happens in families. Why can’t it happen in Washington?”
News of the discussions was first reported by Axios.
In early August, Hickenlooper didn’t lend much credence to rumblings of a unity ticket, telling Politico: “I don’t think Kasich would ever do that. … I don’t think it’s in the cards. But I do like the idea of working with him in some context at some point.”
Kasich and Hickenlooper are working together on major policy issues such as healthcare and immigration — a rare, bipartisan alliance at a time of deep seeded acrimony between the two political parties.
The next steps for the two governors will be more policy than politically focused.
“Watch on the policy front as they expand beyond healthcare and also include other governors into the coalition,” said the source.
Recently, the two governors have been working on an alternative healthcare reform plan to present to others, particlarly congress. Both governors were elected around the same time (Kasich in 2010, Hickenlooper in 2011) in mixed-party states, and immediately accepted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Both oppose the repeal of the the Act.
Barring a surprise star in the ranks, Democrats are not expected to field especially strong candidates in the next two years in preparation for 2020, and presumably, Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee for a second time, unless directly challenged by members of his own party. If they choose to join forces, their likely target would be the majority in each party that polls indicated dissatisfaction with their respective candidates.
While third-party candidates struggle for both funding and name recognition, these men have advantages most third-party candidates don’t. National profiles in each party, independent streaks, and media-friendly relationships and donor networks. And presumably, they carry less baggage or idiosyncrasies that the other “Governors squared” campaign with Johnson/Weld in 2016.
Governors tend to work well together, and share camraderie more than most partisan leaders, and these two governors are no exception.
Gov. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has tended toward the centerline and his party, trying to carve out a reputation for working across the aisle. Gov. Kasich of course has been riding the middle line since his first days in the 2016 campaign, and stayed in until the last stretch of the Republican primary. He earned his stripes first years ago, however, not only accepting Obamacare expansion in his state, but traveling to other state capitals to lobby fellow Republicans to do the same.
Some believed that his continued presence helped to split the non-trump crowd in the primaries – roughly 60% until the end – especially toward the end, when it was mathematically impossible for him to win, and Senator Cruz still had a chance to capture remaining delegates.
Accepting Medicaid expansion should cast doubts on whether or not Kasich is any sort of conservative. As for Hickenlooper, I’d like to see some evidence of his non-liberalism.
For that matter, who knows Hickenlooper? People do know Kasich, but not necessarily positively, for his not-really-warm personality, and for his religion. For instance:
“When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small,” he said in 2013. “But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.”
Kasich and I are sort of co-religionists. However, the Bible doesn’t get into government social policy, and more importantly, Jesus Christ makes it clear in numerous places in the Gospel that our responsibility as Christians is an individual responsibility, not a societal responsibility and not a governmental responsibility.
And of course …
This is certainly unpresidential, though not necessarily presidency-disqualifying in the age of Trump. Given how many people voted for candidates other than Democrats or Republicans in 2016, the door may be opening wider to third-party candidates.
But as always, the devil is in the details, particularly given that the word “bipartisan” seems to always mean Republicans surrendering to Democrats and not Democrats compromising with Republicans.