Ohio Gov. John Kasich (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gary Landers)

When the story of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign is written, it may start with this headline: “The remarkable implosion of Ed FitzGerald.”  FitzGerald’s failures in his campaign for Ohio governor, combined with Republican Governor John Kasich’s great performance as the leader of his state, mean that Kasich is well on his way to being re-elected almost unopposed in November.  That’s something Republicans can cheer about, given that Ohio is a super competitive battleground state.

Even before the Democrats fell apart in Ohio, the always savvy National Journal was championing Kasich as a “swing-state executive…who could have an outsized impact on the 2016 race.”  You don’t hear Kasich’s name mentioned too often in Washington, but he could definitely be a competitor for president in 2016.

Yes, the early posturing and commentary about the presidential field tends to revolve around the person who is the loudest and the most conservative. The media focuses on the Republican they see as the most divisive, raising them up as representative of all Republicans.  But remember, since at least 1964, Republicans have not nominated the most conservative candidate in the race.

Anyway, although November 2016 is still a long way away, candidates will have to make their decision about running within the next six to eight months.  When you consider that the nominees will need to get their fundraising machinery in place and start raising millions of dollars to make sure their war chests are ready for hand-to-hand campaigning in January 2016, they don’t have a lot of time to waste.  If former Florida Governor Jeb Bush decides not to run for president, Kasich will have a lot of room to maneuver within the 2016 field.  His performance as governor speaks for itself, and as a congressman in Washington he was an anti-corporate welfare budget hawk.  Kasich represented tea party values before the tea party was cool.

While the media and the usual pundits zero in on the more Washington-centric, visible names as presidential contenders, Ohio’s John Kasich is certainly a man to watch.

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Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.