Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has tapped a pair of veteran Republicans to play senior roles in his upcoming presidential campaign, according to multiple sources. The decisions are the latest steps in preparation for a formal announcement of candidacy that will come sometime next month.
Kasich has picked John Weaver, a former top adviser in the presidential campaigns of Arizona Sen. John McCain, to fill the role of senior strategist. The Texas-based Weaver will oversee the general strategic direction of the Kasich campaign.
Meanwhile, Fred Davis, a California-based ad maker, will assume the duties as lead media consultant for Kasich's super PAC. He too worked for McCain’s 2008 campaign. Davis and Weaver both worked in behalf of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. in the 2012 campaign.
Kasich was drawn to Weaver and Davis in part because of the work they did previously for another Midwestern Republican governor, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, according to one knowledgeable Republican.
Weaver is a hard-charging strategist who does not shy away from the rigors of a tough campaign. Davis is known as one of the most creative and sometimes offbeat ad makers in the Republican Party. Both have been through controversies in past campaigns.
In a message Tuesday night, Weaver described Kasich as a "conservative problem solver," adding, "John Kasich is a proven winner, at the ballot box and in tackling the tough problems facing America. If he chooses to move forward, I will work my guts out to help him and am proud to be part of a great team already with him."
The hiring of Weaver and Davis, along with the previously announced recruitment of pollster Linda DiVall, provides Kasich with experienced hands atop his campaign operation. The three will work with a team of longtime Kasich advisers who have been building an organization for many weeks.
Kasich has spent the past several months touring the early states, testing receptivity to his message, and has been in California, New York and elsewhere assessing whether he can raise the necessary money to run a competitive campaign in a crowded GOP field.
Aides said two weeks ago that they had set a series of financial targets and expected to meet or better them by the end of the month. The hiring of Weaver and Davis, who have been in talks for several weeks about senior roles, is the latest sign that Kasich is on track for his announcement next month.
The Ohio governor won reelection by an overwhelming margin last fall. He previously served for 18 years in the House, where he was chairman of the Budget Committee and helped bring about the first balanced budgets in a generation.
Kasich is a fiscal conservative who prides himself on projecting a different image for his party. He will join a field of candidates that already includes a large crop of current and former governors, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Unlike Bush and Walker, Kasich is far down in the pack, according to early polls. His advisers expect that his announcement will begin to boost his standing.