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The Ohio governor's visit took on new importance after pact

COURTESY PHOTO: KASICH CAMPAIGN - Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be at a Portland rally Thursday, April 28.GOP presidential candidate John Kasich’s planned visit to Oregon Thursday took on new significance after he and his rival, Ted Cruz, announced they have teamed up to try and block Donald Trump from the Republican nomination.

In nearly simultaneous statements late Sunday, Kasich and Cruz said they would divide their efforts for votes in the remaining primaries: Kasich agreed to pull out of Indiana and focus on Oregon and New Mexico, while Cruz focuses his energy on Indiana, a winner-takes-all state where Kasich already lags far behind.

EO MEDIA GROUPThe divide-and-conquer strategy is intended to prevent Trump from gaining the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the GOP nomination in July.

“If Kasich had not made the Cruz deal, it would have been interesting to see if he could have moved anyone in Oregon, but because of the deal struck, Kasich is going to be the chief alternative to Trump here in Oregon,” said Jim Moore, politics professor at Pacific University and director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation.

Kasich, who is governor of Ohio, announced April 22 that he plans to hold a town hall meeting April 28 in Portland, marking the first time a Republican presidential campaign has visited Oregon this election cycle. The state’s primary is May 17.

“They’re thinking Kasich would appeal more to Republicans in Oregon because it is a liberal state,” said Cruz backer Larry Moore, Umatilla County GOP chairman. But he said he doubts many Cruz supporters would change their allegiance to Kasich. “Ideologically, they’re not in the same place, but I think it’s obvious they both think Trump shouldn’t be the nominee so they’re working together.”

Oregon Right to Life still plans to endorse Cruz because his "pro-life record is the best of all of the candidates," said Lois Anderson, the group's director of political operations.

Kasich's chances in Oregon are slim because until now, he has run no campaign in the state, said Jim Moore of Pacific University. Another challenge: The candidate's photo, biography and platform is missing from Oregon's election guide because his campaign failed to file paperwork with the Secretary of State's Office by the March 10 deadline, said agency spokeswoman Molly Woon. Kasich's name does appear, however, in the election guide as part of a list of candidates on the ballot, Woon said.

The strategy to concede territory also is unlikely to make as much of a difference in Oregon as it would in Indiana because Oregon divides its delegates proportionally while Indiana is a winner takes all state.

That’s one reason Larry Moore said he would not change his allegiance to Kasich. Whether he votes for Cruz or Kasich, it won’t change how many delegates Trump gets in Oregon, he said. Cruz’s platform also lines up better with his own beliefs, Moore said.

Cruz is in Indiana because that “could make a difference of Trump making to the 1,237” delegates, said Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, who has been involved in Cruz’s campaign in Oregon. “Oregon and Washington aren’t as crucial to Cruz.”

But Barreto still anticipates a Cruz visit to Oregon before May 17 primary, and he said the deal announced Sunday will not sway his vote from Cruz to Kasich.

To make the divide-and-conquer strategy work in Oregon, Kasich would have to woo Trump supporters to his side, Larry Moore said. “I don’t think they’ll steal Trump voters."

The New York billionaire's "appeal this year is from the outside," Moore said. Trump supporters "want something different from the establishment, and Kasich would very much come across as the establishment, and Cruz does, too. Trump voters are very loyal to the thought somebody from outside is going to clean this mess up.”

By Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau Reporter
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