The Ohio governor is seen as the most experienced and moderate candidate among the remaining four presidential candidates. And that fits well with the elected officials and longtime Republican activists who dominate the 52-year-old political conference.
Kasich took 46 of the 136 votes cast, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz finishing second with 36 and New York businessman Donald Trump closely behind with 33. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had 18 votes.
Kasich supporters praised his ability to work across partisan divides. Some argue that he’s still a viable candidate even if his best chance of winning is at a contested Republican convention.
Tim Bernasek, an agriculture lawyer and longtime Republican activist, said Kasich is the only Republican candidate who consistently beats Democrat Hillary Clinton in polls.
“John Kasich is a real opportunity for us,” said Bernasek, even if the Ohio governor’s only realistic route to a win is if Trump or Cruz fall short of the majority needed to win the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican convention.
Cruz was praised by backers for being an uncompromising conservative. Trump supporters argued that he was capturing voter discontent with establishment politics and bringing new people into the Republican Party.
Dorchester attendees aren’t necessarily representative of the Republican electorate in Oregon. But Kasich’s win in the straw poll could encourage him to put resources into the state’s May 17 primary – if he’s still in the race then.