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Contested GOP convention could allow opening for Ohio Gov. John Kasich

In Tuesday's New York Republican presidential primary, Ohio Gov. John Kasich came in second place to frontrunner Donald Trump by double digit percentage points, 25 percent of the GOP vote to 60.5 percent. Ted Cruz came in third place.

If Donald Trump fails to accrue the 1237 delegates, half of all 2472 delegates, required to get the nomination before the Republican National Convention in July, another nominee with fewer delegates could win the nomination instead.

This is called a contested convention, a phrase that has been thrown around a lot lately in the political realm. But what is it and what does it mean for Kasich?

A contested convention occurs when no candidate in a party's race for presidential nomination reaches the needed delegates to secure the nomination before the party's national convention. At the convention, then, the nomination is decided by one or more rounds of delegate votes.

Most states assign delegates based on primary election results, giving the delegates no choice in their vote. A contested convention, however, would release most of these delegates in the event that no candidate wins a majority of the convention’s initial vote. Some people call it a "brokered convention," thinking that powerbrokers will negotiate deals for votes to determine the party nominee.

In the first vote at the RNC convention, at least 5 percent of delegates are available to vote as they please. A candidate would need over 50 percent of this vote to win the nomination for the Republican party.

If no one wins the first round, a second vote is held with more unbound delegates. The New York Times estimated that 61 percent of delegates would be unbound in this round. In the third vote, even more delegates are released so that 82 percent are unbound. It is unlikely that there would be a fourth vote, but not impossible.

Throughout this voting process, candidates withdraw or are released of delegates due to a low number of votes, narrowing the pool of candidates remaining in contention as the votes continue. When one candidate wins a majority of delegate votes, they win the nomination.

Currently, there is an eight-state rule that requires a candidate to win more than 50 percent of delegates in a minimum of eight states in order to secure the nomination. Donald Trump is the only candidate that has done so thus far.

This rule could be changed preceding the convention, though, allowing Kasich the possibility of winning the nomination. He has only won the majority of delegates in his home state.

This and other rules, decided by the Republican party convention rules committee, made up of 112 party officials from each state, the capital, and the five US territories, is subject to change before the convention.

"I’m increasingly optimistic that there actually may be a second ballot," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told WHAS-TV this past weekend.

While not directly insulting or criticizing any particular candidate, this is the first time that McConnell has shown anything but neutrality with regards to the Republican race. It also shows that the Republican party may be standing behind Kasich rather than Trump, who is trying to avoid a contested convention.

Though a contested convention is really the only hope for the Ohio governor to win the Republican nomination, it would be no easy feat. In the event of a contested convention, not only will the current candidates be able to compete for the delegate votes, but so will people who did not run or who have dropped out of the race. This means that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and former candidate Marco Rubio could have their names on the ballot in the convention vote.

In response to the argument that a contested convention is undemocratic because it does not award the nomination to the candidate with the most votes, Kasich has said that the delegates are honorable people that should be able to decide the results.

According to members of The POLITICO Caucus, a panel of political insiders in seven battleground states, Kasich is the most acceptable candidate to GOP delegates.

"The way he has conducted himself in this election has offered him the opportunity to be an acceptable choice for the delegates," a New Hampshire Republican said.

Kasich seems to be the only Republican candidate consistently polling as being able to beat Hillary Clinton in a general election, which works in his favor with forward-minded delegates. Another point in Kasich's favor is the fact that delegates often come from the establishment wing of the Republican party. The governor is the only establishment candidate left in the race now, so this could give him a fair amount of delegate votes in a contested convention.

Kasich and his team have already begun to strategize for the GOP convention this summer. He has already started addressing delegates and potential delegates, assuring them that he is hanging on until the convention.

Article posted April 2016. Site requires subscription to view full article text.

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Kasich secures endorsements preceding New York primary

As of Monday, April 18, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is in last place in prospective voter polls for the New York State Primary. His only hope in the election seems to be taking away delegates from Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

He has campaigned heavily across the state in the past few weeks, gaining traction and momentum. In just the last week, he has received endorsements from New York Gov. George Pataki and Theodore Roosevelt IV, great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.

This endorsement from such a well-known name in the realm of politics could be a game-changer for Kasich. Though it will not likely be enough to change his standing in the polls, it might be enough to get him more delegates. And more delegates will put him in a better position should the Republican party go to a contested convention.

"In my opinion he is by far the best-qualified Republican candidate and the only one who could win the general election," said Roosevelt, echoing the sentiment of many Kasich followers.

The Syracuse Post Standard also endorsed Kasich this week. In fact, almost every newspaper in the state has endorsed Kasich along with Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. These newspapers have cited his previous government experience as a plus along with his success in budgetary and economic matters.

"Many in the country are just waking up to Kasich, whose refusal to make outrageous pronouncements and engage in petty backbiting has kept him in the background of the GOP presidential campaign. Being the adult in the room can be a drag," wrote the Editorial Board of the Post Standard.

Even with all of these endorsements, though, Kasich has been mathematically eliminated from earning the 1237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination, according to Mediaite. In fact, he is still behind Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race over a month ago, in total votes.

So why is Kasich hanging on to a failing campaign? Clearly, he is sticking around until the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Cleveland in July. The only way that he can secure the Republican nomination at this point is for the vote at the convention to go to a second ballot, which has not happened since 1952.

Article posted April 2016. Site requires subscription to view full article text.

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Voters react to Kasich's thoughts on affordable college tuition

At Gov. John Kasich's 100th town hall in New Hampshire on Friday, he was asked to discuss his plans to make tuition more affordable for college students in America.

"We can't have free (college), we've got 19 trillion over here," Kasich said in reference to the national debt.

He disagrees with Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders that no‐cost higher education is plausible in America. Affordable college tuition is a major topic in the Democratic primary, unlike the Republican campaigns.

Steve Garrett, an AP History teacher from Florida, told the candidate that he already had his vote, but was wondering what he could tell his students about Kasich's thoughts on college tuition to convince them to vote for the governor.

Kasich began with praise for the College Credit Plus program, which allows students in Ohio to earn high school and college credits at the same time. The program promotes curiosity and college‐level learning while saving students money by providing free courses from local colleges and universities, Kasich said.

He then said that because many students must take and pay for remedial, high‐school level courses once they go to college, that high schools should offer an online alternative to exempt students from these courses in order to save more money. The candidate's third point of advice on how to make college more affordable was for students to avoid choosing a college or university on brand. Rather, he suggests that students choose a school they can afford. Better yet, he said, "go to community college for two years, then transfer."

Kasich also feels that spending at public colleges and universities needs to be more strictly controlled.

"Some of the most rapidly rising costs are the administrative costs at our universities," Kasich said during the Bedford town hall.

Lastly, he supports the privatization of parts of college campuses in order to turn a profit and keep some control over rising costs at universities.

Garrett agreed with Kasich's advice to potential college students that "you have to manage your expectations and you have to exploit all opportunities for scholarships."

When asked if he found Kasich's answer satisfying, Garrett said, "I think that he gave some good direction… It showed me that he's concerned about it and thinking about it, and that’s good enough for me."

Garrett brought his nephew, Alec Biron, to the town hall meeting in the hopes of convincing him to vote for Kasich, as well. Biron, a student at Southern New Hampshire University thought that the governor answered his uncle's question about affordable college well. "There are so many different problems right now with higher education that there's not one correct solution, so I thought he did a good job," Biron said.

Another audience member at the town hall, Fred Wadlington of Vermont, was also impressed by the candidate's answer to Garrett's question.

"I don't think that's necessary," Wadlington said of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' plan for free college tuition. "One, it's a major cost factor and I think that Governor Kasich was right on. There's a lot of colleges out there, you don't have to go to the most expensive college to get a good education," he said.

Wadlington worked with Kasich in the 1970s when he was first elected to the Ohio State Senate.

"He absolutely has my vote," he said, "I think he has a tremendous degree of integrity. I also feel that he is not just conservative, he's not liberal, he believes in bringing everybody up."

Article posted February 2016. Site requires subscription to view full article text.

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Economic policy takes center stage at Democratic debate

The cost of college tuition and the debt that students incur as a result has been a hot topic on the national stage throughout the campaign process, especially for Democrats. While Sanders wants to eliminate tuition for undergraduates at public colleges and universities, Clinton just wants to reduce the price, saying "I also believe in affordable college, but I don't believe in free college." She said during the debate that any expert she has conferred with questions how a monumental bill like that would get paid.

In MSNBC's Democratic Candidates Debate on Thursday night, economic plans and policy dominated the first hour of discussion. Sen. Sanders and Secretary Clinton agree that the current state of the economy is not working for Americans. Sen. Sanders went as far as claiming that Americans are "giving up on the political process because they understand the economy is rigged."

Among younger voters, a target demographic for both campaigns, the cost of higher education is a topic of the utmost importance. The economic repercussions for those saddled with college debt are massive.

Clinton's New College Compact uses a combination of federal aid, student work, and state and college accountability to reduce the price of college for students attending 4-year public schools. She also plans to cut interest rates on student loans and allow for more refinancing among those with already-accrued debt. She plans to pay for this initiative by limiting tax expenditures for the wealthy.

Sanders answers Clinton's concerns with his own so-called Robin Hood tax on Wall Street, which is part of his proposed College for All Act With this take-from-the-rich-to-give-to-the-poor approach to funding public college tuition, Sanders' act would give $47 billion of federal money to public, 4-year undergraduate colleges each year. The remaining $23 billion needed to fully eliminate the cost would fall to state government to provide.

"The middle class bailed out Wall Street in their time of need. Now, it is Wall Street's time to help the middle class," Sanders said during the debate on Thursday.

Though both candidates voted for the Affordable Care Act, they have proposed changes to the bill that would affect costs and the economic standing of many Americans. Sanders, like Clinton, wants to make universal healthcare a reality but feels that Obamacare did not go far enough to do so. The single-payer system, he says, allows the government to negotiate more reasonable pricing for medical services, thus lowering costs.

Clinton stands by the passing of the Affordable Care Act while planning to build upon it to expand affordable coverage, which she calls a basic human right. "I want to build on the progress we've made," Clinton said at the debate, "I don’t want to rip away the security that people finally have; 18 million people now have healthcare; preexisting conditions are no longer a bar. So we have a difference."

The candidates both plan to incentivize the execution of quality health care in America and to lower costs of healthcare on the whole. To do so, Sanders and Clinton each want to focus on lowering the costs of medical services and prescription drugs. They plan to impose regulations and restrictions on the seemingly limitless pharmaceutical industry in order to do that.

Another area that the candidates vow to reform is campaign financing. In his opening remarks, Sen. Sanders said that the "corrupt campaign finance system [is] undermining American democracy, where billionaire, Wall Street, corporate America can contribute unlimited sums of money into super PACs and into candidates."

At the center of this reform for both candidates is the pledge to end Citizens United, which is both a Political Action Group (PAC) and a Supreme Court case about how corporations are allowed to spend money in and around political elections. Democrats across the country, including President Obama, argued that the ruling in favor of the Citizens United PAC give lobbyists, corporations, and the wealthy too much power in Washington.

The Democratic presidential hopefuls believe that ending Citizens United will restore the important role of normal, individual voters in the democratic process in America. By that same token, the murky spending in politics will have to come to light, adding an added dose of honesty to campaigns and reducing the anonymity of the wealthy corporations sponsoring so much political activity today.

"One person, one vote. That's what American democracy is about," Sanders said after noting his plan to overturn the Supreme Court decision.

When asked to summarize Sanders' economic policy, the New Hampshire State Director of his campaign, Julie Barnes, called it "a policy of restoring fairness and equality in our economic system," which will require "a reframing of what the priorities are of a functional economic system in the country and who that benefits." Specifically, the Sanders campaign wants to see increased economic benefits for the middle and working classes, Barnes said.

Ayanna Pressley, a member of the Boston City Council and fervent endorser of Secretary Clinton said, "she believes with strong families we have a stronger America." The stabilization of family, including affordable childcare, a living wage, equal pay, and affordable college tuition is central to Clinton’s economic plan if she is elected as president, Pressley said.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said that, though there is anxiety about the economy on a national level, his state is doing well in that area. Statewide, Buckley said, 64 percent believe that the state is headed in the right direction. "We have a successful story here," he said.

The politically engaged in New Hampshire must reconcile their national and local economic beliefs by Tuesday for the primary election.

Buckley declined to comment on which candidate that New Hampshire Democrats will favor in the primary this coming week, saying "no matter what the outcome, it’s going to be a good election."

Article posted February 2016. Site requires subscription to view full article text.

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