Ohio Governor John Kasich has never really gotten over losing the primary to Donald Trump in 2016. He has been meandering in the political wilderness since the election, term-limited in his current position, searching for another way to become President. Kasich honestly sort of believed that within the first year or two, maybe Donald Trump would be removed or decide to quit. In that case, Kasich was there in waiting to fill the void. It doesn’t appear likely that either scenario will happen (barring Democrats taking the House in 2018), so Kasich is charting a new path.

The story comes from WKYC in Cleveland questioning whether Kasich will actually try to challenge Trump in 2020, or whether he’s just setting up the campaign-in-waiting:

The heart wants what it wants. Or, to quote the governor’s favorite pop star, Justin Bieber: “Never say never.”

That’s where Kasich finds himself in April 2018 – months before he would need to make a firm decision about a third presidential run. With his career as governor coming to a close, Kasich faces two different paths for his future.

Behind door No. 1 is a career as a political pundit, investment banker or board member of a major U.S. company. Kasich has experience in business and television – first as a Fox News host for six years and more recently as a frequent guest on Fox News’ more liberal cable news competitors.

That’s the most likely path. It doesn’t include asking billionaires for money, defending his Medicaid expansion or eating New York-style pizza with a fork.

But Kasich is keeping another door open. If Trump doesn’t run again, or if the president is plagued by scandal, or if Republicans clamor for an alternative, Kasich will be there, ready and waiting.

That is one reason the governor is traveling to New Hampshire Tuesday. He wants the Granite State and its early-primary voters to remember him – just in case.

Kaisch did, in fact, travel to New Hampshire recently and spoke about his desire to be a voice of “stability” in politics. His thinking is that Republican voters will become tired of the President’s daily tweets and chaos in the White House, so tired that they will start clamoring for a GOP challenger in 2020. In that scenario, Kasich is there to step in and steady the ship.

Without something serious coming from the Mueller collusion probe, or Trump simply deciding he doesn’t want to run for a second term, there aren’t any options for Kasich this time around. There’s no question, however, he’ll be jumping at the opportunity to run in 2024. Like so many politicians who have their heart set on higher office, he’ll spend the next several years running a perpetual campaign of sorts. He’ll continue traveling the country, he’ll keep a skeleton crew of staff in various offices in early voting states, and he’ll continue building up a structure to launch his next Presidential bid. The point is that Kasich wants to be the first one out of the gate for whatever happens next.

There was talk before of Kasich launching an independent bid for the Presidency, but as the WKYC story points out, that’s very unlikely:

One reason is institutional: Republicans and Democrats set up the systems that help their candidates win. Forty-eight states, including Ohio, have a winner-take-all allocation of their electoral votes. In those states, along with the District of Columbia, an independent candidate would have to best both the Republican and Democrat to win any electoral votes at all.

Another is behavioral: People don’t like voting for people who can’t win, said Walter Stone, a professor emeritus at University of California-Davis and author of “Three’s a Crowd: The Dynamic of Third Parties, Ross Perot, and Republican Resurgence.”

Kasich would bomb as an independent, almost any candidate would. His best shot is within the GOP, but it would have a to be a GOP that wasn’t married to Donald Trump. When that change will occur is anyone’s guess, but Kasich is counting the days.