Maine Republicans have traditionally supported pragmatic conservatives who balance sound fiscal policy with compassion for people in need. Republicans like William Cohen, John McKernan, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have contributed to Maine’s national reputation as a place where partisanship takes a back seat to working for the common good.

There is one candidate in the race for the Republican presidential nomination who best represents that tradition: Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich is no moderate. His positions against abortion rights and union organizing would put him on the right wing of any state’s party. On most issues, Kasich’s positions have dovetailed with the activist conservative movement that swept him into office in the 2010 election.

But what sets him apart from others who rode the tea party wave that year is his eagerness to bridge ideological divides and get things done.

This is best shown in Ohio’s response to the Affordable Care Act. Kasich was an opponent of the program derisively known as Obamacare, but when it became law he made sure the people of his state received its full benefit. He became an early and outspoken advocate for expanding Medicaid eligibility under the law because it would help thousands of working-poor Ohioans as well as people with drug addictions and mental illness.

When challenged by a Republican lawmaker who wanted to reject the federal funds, Kasich responded that his support for the program was a reflection of deeply held religious beliefs.


“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,” Kasich told the legislator. “But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.”

Kasich had to fight members of his own party to expand Medicaid, but he persevered, maneuvered and achieved it. Ohioans rewarded him with a 30-point re-election landslide in 2014.

It’s Kasich’s attitude about the purpose of government and his understanding of the way to work its levers that make him stand out in the Republican field in which candidates appear to be trying to outdo each other in mean-spiritedness and ignorance.

It’s no surprise that Donald Trump should be leading a race run on those terms. His blatant appeal to racial and religious prejudice is unlike anything seen in this country since the presidential campaigns of George Wallace.

And Trump sounds drunk with pride when he boasts that the most complex domestic and foreign policy questions could be solved by his heavy-handed management.

While it’s appealing to think that a president could “make America great again,” thinking people know that America’s greatness comes from vast numbers of us working together, not a dictator telling us what to do.


Maine Republicans have an opportunity to slow down Trump’s momentum and give the nation a second chance to decide who represents the best alternative to eight years of Democratic control of the White House.

In a field of ideologues and amateurs, Kasich is the best choice to lead that campaign.

We are very concerned about his advocacy against a woman’s right to choose, as well as the anti-Planned Parenthood legislation that he recently signed in Ohio. But there is no pro-abortion rights candidate in the race for the Republican nomination, and Kasich’s positions are no worse than his opponents’.

What makes Kasich different is his passionate desire to make the country work. Maine Republicans should recognize this candidate as part of their tradition and support him in the state caucus this weekend.

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