A top Ohio Republican said yesterday he expects Rep. John R. Kasich (R) to focus on his uphill White House bid and not seek reelection to Congress next year.

"John hasn't said anything definitive, but he's given us pretty good indications he won't run for reelection," said Tom Whatman, Ohio Republican Party executive director.

The biggest indication came this week when Kasich, chairman of the House Budget Committee, cleaned out the $1.4 million in his congressional campaign fund and transferred it to his presidential campaign -- although he could transfer it back if he abandons his presidential bid.

Kasich has remained noncommittal, except to say he would not run simultaneously for president and Congress next year -- even though Ohio law would permit it.

Aides said Kasich has not told them what he plans to do. "I asked him and he said, `Bruce, I just haven't decided yet,' " said Bruce Cuthbertson, Kasich's press secretary.

Polls show Kasich mired in single digits as he runs far behind in a pack of a dozen Republican rivals for the party's 2000 presidential nomination.

If Kasich decides to try to keep his House seat, he must file for reelection no later than Jan. 7. That would be just a month before Iowa and New Hampshire hold the first state presidential preference votes.