Turning to 2016, Republicans look to swing state governors

SHAFAQNA – As attention turns to the 2016 presidential race, Republicans are taking a closer look at three governors from politically diverse states whose success in midterm elections this month bolstered their White House prospects.

New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich feature prominently in a crowded field of Republicans because of their appeal to voters beyond the party’s conservative base, pollsters and strategists said.

The trio, along with three other potential candidates, will have the chance to show off their policy expertise while courting donors and media attention at a two-day Republican Governors Association meeting in Florida starting on Wednesday.

For Christie, Walker and Kasich, the pitch will be simple: Republicans need a candidate who not only comes from outside the gridlocked halls of an unpopular Congress, but who also appeals to enough undecided, independent and Democratic Party voters to win in swing states that decide U.S. elections.

“Voters are clear … all roads lead to a governor or former governor,” said independent pollster John Zogby. “The critical mass says, ‘Show me that you’re a consensus builder and show me that you’re a problem solver.'”

Party operatives say they are undeterred by the example of Republican Mitt Romney, a conservative former governor of liberal Massachusetts when he unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012.

“Nobody thought we were going to carry Massachusetts,” said Republican strategist Charlie Black. But the three governors represent key political battleground states. “Having a favorite son in a New Jersey or an Ohio or a Wisconsin might make a difference,” Black said.

At least a dozen Republicans are weighing a White House race. Three other governors from more conservative states who are considering a run also will attend this week’s meeting: Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Mike Pence of Indiana.

Christie, Walker and Kasich all benefited from the party’s successful midterm election.

Christie, who easily won re-election in 2013 in heavily Democratic New Jersey but suffered a setback with a “Bridge-gate” political retribution scandal, led the RGA to wins in Democratic states like Illinois and Maryland.

Walker won re-election in a state that voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Kasich won re-election in the crucial swing-state of Ohio by 32 points.

The next presidential election is in November 2016. After two terms Obama, a Democrat, is barred from running again.

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