Ohio Governor John Kasich claimed a practical victory Tuesday night, placing second in the New Hampshire Republican primary behind Donald Trump. Kasich’s late rise in the last few days, moving him out of the governors mini-pack he cohabited with Jeb Bush and Chris Christie and modestly but clearly past Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, vindicated his New Hampshire-centric strategy.
Kasich continued his campaign theme of a self-described positive focus with a renewed denunciation of negative advertising, declaring that “tonight the light overcame the darkness of negative campaigning.” In an atypical statement from a candidate celebrating a favorable primary election outcome Kasich pledged not to accelerate and work even harder, but to slow down. Speaking of deeply personal encounters with people sharing their struggles at his town halls Kasich said “from this day forward I’m going to go slower and spend my time listening and healing and helping and bringing people together to fix our great country.”
Was Tuesday night his high point or just the beginning? Kasich faces a challenging road ahead as his New Hampshire-centric strategy means that he has limited organization and support in the upcoming primary states, with limited time and money to capitalize on his New Hampshire success. A winnowing field and an expected spike in media attention will provide opportunity, but no guarantee of success.