On Monday night, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich completed his journey from conservative darling and Republican rising star to speaker at the Democratic National Convention.
“I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” Kasich said at the event. “That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times.”
Kasich led a small group of Republican dissidents at the mostly virtual convention’s opening night. But unlike former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, former New York Rep. Susan Molinari, or businesswoman Meg Whitman, Kasich wasn’t identified with the GOP’s centrist wing for most of his career. An anti-abortion budget cutter, Kasich identified with conservatives since winning a seat in the Ohio state Senate at age 26.
“John was a conservative early on,” said a former Ohio Republican official. “He was a fighter.”