Republican presidential candidate John Kasich’s campaign has secured the coveted support of billionaire Ken Langone, who will join the team to help with fundraising as it seeks to build out a robust national campaign infrastructure.
Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, has emerged as one of the most highly sought-after donors and financiers since New Jersey Gov. Christie announced Thursday that he would exit the presidential contest. Langone, a longtime Christie supporter, brings enormous fundraising credibility to a campaign that needs to rapidly capitalize on its sudden momentum.
“He called our campaign and we were honored and proud that he did,” Kasich strategist John Weaver told reporters during a conference call Thursday. Weaver said that Langone will help the campaign expand its fundraising network.
Kasich was immediately thrust into the top tier of Republican candidates after his upset second-place finish in the Granite State, edging out better-funded opponents like former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. His campaign now faces the staggering challenge of transforming its shoe-string operation in various states into a sustainable national operation.
"That’s a great problem to have; you want a bigger parade than you have parade handlers to deal with it," said Weaver, describing the adjustment as an "incredible growth spurt." He would not disclose how much money the campaign has raised since Tuesday night's results were announced.
The Ohio governor's path forward rests on raising enough money and sustaining enough interest to remain competitive in the March voting states, particularly Michigan, which senior strategist John Weaver called the “gateway to the Midwest.”
“It’s the gateway to super Tuesday, it’s the gateway to the Midwest. It’s a state that’s a kindred spirit with Ohio, politically [and] economically," Weaver added. "We have to do very well there and we intend to."
But first Kasich must brace for a string of likely losses in states that are more hostile to Kasich's compassionate conservative message, including South Carolina, where the next Republican nominating contest takes place Feb. 20. Langone's support will most likely help shore up the confidence of potential donors who worry that the campaign cannot remain viable long enough to reach the March voting states.
Langone did not immediately return a request for comment.