John Kasich to Campaign in Massachusetts on Saturday

It means Kasich is skipping primary election night in South Carolina.

When the eyes of the political world are focused on South Carolina this Saturday night, Ohio governor John Kasich will be in a Back Bay hotel soliciting contributions to keep his long-shot campaign for the Republican presidential nomination afloat.

Kasich will spend his Saturday on the campaign trail with town hall events in Vermont and Worcester before trekking to the Back Bay for what the Boston Globe described as a “high-dollar fund-raiser.” Kasich will speak at the Hibernian Cultural Center in Worcester at 3 p.m.

The “establishment lane” candidate, who was seen by many political observers as an afterthought until his second place finish in New Hampshire, is not an unfamiliar face in neighboring Massachusetts and Vermont, as his face was a constant presence on TV and in their mailboxes during the months before the primary. Unlike the other remaining Republicans in the race, Kasich poured all of his resources into winning New Hampshire with the hope that a strong showing there would catapult his candidacy into the later stages of the primary. So far, his second place finish in New Hampshire has only complicated an already baffling race.

The uncertainty of the race—let’s call it the Donald Trump Factor—has put Massachusetts in play this cycle and made it more important than in most recent Republican nominating cycles. The absence of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has left the state wide open to any Republican nominee. Recent polling of Republican primary voters in the state is scarce, so it is difficult to project how it will play out. The last poll of Massachusetts voters, conducted in November, showed Trump receiving the support of nearly a third of Republican primary voters. 

Governor Charlie Baker’s candidate of choice, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, dropped out shortly after the New Hampshire primary. A handful of Republican legislators have backed Texas senator Ted Cruz and Florida senator Marco Rubio, but their ability to turn out the vote statewide for either candidate is unknown. Former senator Scott Brown, now a New Hampshire resident, has endorsed Trump, though his former staffers are split among other candidates, including Rubio.

The team of Massachusetts politicians backing Kasich includes Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and former Congressman Peter Torkildsen. On Thursday, his campaign announced the addition of State Representative Kate Campanale of Worcester to his Massachusetts team.

No other Republican candidates have announced plans to visit Massachusetts before the March 1 primary.