An Open Letter to John Kasich: Please Challenge Trump


Former Ohio governor John Kasich has been the most prominent and consistent Republican critic of Donald Trump, but he’s shying away from the necessary (and patriotic) mission of a lifetime–challenging Trump for the 2020 GOP nomination. He’s told his top political staff to stop planning for a run and has said publicly that he “sees no path for me in 2020.”

I know him and his top staff and have been urging him in print and in emails to run for two years now. So earlier this week I sent him this email, which I’m sharing with the world because I got no reply:


Dear Governor, I’m writing to urge you to reconsider (and reverse) your evident decision not to challenge President Trump in 2020.

You’ve been his most consistent and eloquent Republican critic as he tears the country apart, sides with US adversaries and undermines US alliances–and (it’s not too much to say) threatens American democracy. I realize that, at the moment, running against him seems like a political suicide mission, but that may not always be true as his offenses against the Constitution are unmasked and fair-minded Republicans realize that he’s unfit to hold the office. (I often encounter Republicans who wish you’d won the 2016 nomination, some who wrote you in given the choice of Trump and Clinton.)

Even if most Republicans stick with him next year, challenging him would be a service to the country. You (alone in the party, to my mind) could most effectively call on Republicans to remember they’ve been the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan–not of demagogues and scoundrels. Defeating Trump looks daunting, but I could see you wounding him in states like New Hampshire and California and rallying dismayed Republicans. Moreover, your message of unity, decency and conservative principle would serve as a stark contrast to Trump’s self-obsession and divisiveness.

You’ve said that you hope to have an impact on America’s future. This is the moment when America’s future hangs in the balance and when you could do your country the greatest service.

Mort Kondracke

I’m urging Never Trump Republican friends, some fellow Independents and  even Democrats to similarly importune Kasich. History shows that when an incumbent president gets a serious primary challenge, he often loses the general election.

Mort Kondracke
Mort Kondracke
Morton Kondracke is a retired Washington, DC, journalist (Chicago Sun-Times, The New Republic, McLaughlin Group, FoxNews Special Report, Roll Call, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal) now living on Bainbridge Island. He continues to write regularly for (besides PostAlley), mainly to advance the cause of political reform.


  1. I am personally embarrassed by Donald Trump’s behavior and quite concerned about his purposeful dismantling of our republic. I also encourage Governor Kasich to run for president.

  2. Wow – no comments yet
    Kasich 2020 clearly needs to happen
    Moderate Democrats and Independents (me) will vote for him. The best option to reunite the United States after all the divisive politics.

  3. Americans are all caught up in the impeachment inquiry. It’s difficult to look past the impending impeachment and try to imagine who would run as a republican for president. John Kasich should be considered if we can get beyond this terrible president.

  4. I am a former Buckeye living in Illinois. John Kasich, as president, could be the “healer” the country needs while at the same time incorporating into the office those qualities greatly needed— compassion, commitment to principles of our Constitution, etc. I am asking that John challenge Donald Trump and “make America Greater again.”

    PS Is there an address where John can be reached?

  5. Please please no! This “can’t we all just get along” line might sound good, but Kasich never quite gets to the practicalities of what that might look like. His message is that we need to build a “moderate” middle – or at least his Republican version of what it looks like. Not so moderate at all, as it turns out. And one gets the feeling from him that to disagree with where he defines the center is to get yourself labeled as an extremist and therefore invalidated. So what exactly defines a moderate middle these days? Given his record in Congress, I’m sure not ready to let him tell us what it is. One of the things I hate about the “moderate” label is that it by definition attempts to discredit opinions that don’t agree with it as extremist or outside the mainstream. I’m not sure that Kasich’s brand of moderate is so mainstream.

  6. I was a strong supporter of John Kasich in 2016, two things now concern me, (1) he has not responded to your open letter, it would kind for him to do so (he has been warm, he has listened and he has been approachable and responsive in the past), (2) He stated that he saw no path for him to defeat Trump, then it is time to create that path. Once a bully is truly challenged he/she soon loses his/her fan club. John Kasich is in a unique position, and the only one who can fill that role. Hope he reconsiders
    PS Carol asks a good question, is there an address where John Kasich can be reached?

  7. I once suggested to a nice, articulate 20-something activist that the way forward might be found by letting go of some of the more provocative and challenging proposals on the left and right and search for some political momentum in the middle. She seemed altogether surprised that I would say such a thing, when recent history has clearly shown that “Centrism doesn’t work.” Obviously. I don’t think she was referring to the overwhelming success of the far right. So what does work to pull us back into a country where laws and language and facts count? Maybe a republican who respects them…


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