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John Kasich’s New York State of Mind

With Ted Cruz’s New York campaign in tatters, the mantle of #NeverTrump has passed to also-ran John Kasich. His surprising popularity upstate makes him a credible threat on Donald Trump’s home turf.

Watching John Kasich try and convince himself that he’s still a presidential contender is like watching a middle-aged divorcee convince herself she’s still hot. All the late-night mirror pep talks, whorish makeup, and sexual aggression can’t wash away simple mathematical reality. Kasich has lost every state in the race save for Ohio, his own, and he hasn’t won a single delegate since then. While he was projected to carry Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district in that state’s primary last week, he ended up in third place behind statewide winner Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Fortunately for Kasich, #NeverTrump (the name of the GOP’s anti-Trump astroturfing scheme) is as loyal to Cruz as a cad is to the teenagers he beds. In the upcoming New York primary, Lyin’ Ted is running third behind Trump and Kasich, and Cruz’s tour of the Bronx ended with him and Heidi fleeing back to their Houston McMansion, tails firmly ensconced between their legs. As a result, everyone’s favorite Republican Deadhead is back, ready to shuck and jive his way to the nomination.

And while Trump may hold a commanding lead in the Empire State polls, my experience at a John Kasich town hall meeting in the Rochester suburbs this weekend shows why he shouldn’t rest on his laurels. Kasich’s phony everyman persona and lengthy tenure in the Republican Party brothel may turn off those of us with a clue, but it turns on the middlebrow GOP voters of upstate New York. While I wouldn’t put money on Kasich pulling an upset, don’t count him out, either.

I arrived at the town hall a half-hour before it was slated to start, figuring I could just walk in like I did with the Kasich event I attended in suburban Chicago. The first sign that this wasn’t an ordinary campaign stop was the traffic. A line of cars snarled outward from the Town of Greece Community Center, down the road and onto the highway itself. When I actually got with eyeshot of the entrance, there was a line of people at least 150 strong.

By the time I found a place to park and walked over to the Community Center, the town hall was already full. Instead, I was shunted into an overflow room with 300 others. Notably, there were a surprising number of young people mixed in with the usual retiree crowd. The audience was also reasonably fired up, by Kasich’s standards anyway.

I’d guess that at least a third of the crowd wasn’t interested in Kasich per se but was there to rubberneck: “Omigod, a presidential candidate is coming to ROCHESTER!!!!” New York’s solid-blue demographics mean that it gets ignored during general elections, and the late date of its primary means that it gets ignored during presidential nominations. 2016 is the first race in decades where the average New Yorker’s opinion actually matters.

John Kasich arrived 20 minutes late and gave us the usual condensed speech that politicians spout to overflow crowds. He then went into the main room to start the town hall meeting, which we were able to listen to over the speakers:

The more I watch and listen to Kasich, the more I’m convinced that he’s the most brain-damaged Republican in the race. Say what you will about pathological liar Ted Cruz: at least he isn’t advocating starting World War III. At both this town hall and the one I went to last month, Kasich expounded on how he was going to arm the Ukrainians to resist Russian “tyranny,” a move that would have sent the military into DEFCON 2 if it had been tried during the Cold War. He even called Vladimir Putin a “bully,” further confirming that the GOP is slouching towards SJW Gomorrah.

I’m no Hunter S. Thompson, but I’ve put enough substances in my mouth or up my nose to know a long-term user when I see one. Kasich’s physical profile is that of an acid casualty on antipsychotics. When speaking, he makes bizarre, reflexive movements with his mouth, jutting out his chin and stretching his neck muscles like he’s a marionette whose puppetmaster is having a stroke. His voice also frequently shifts tone, like an autistic child.

I’m not knocking Kasich for enjoying his drugs, but it’s clear that his hippie days, combined with antipsychotic treatment, have irreparably damaged his mind. Had he not gone into politics, he’d probably be sitting in a rubber room, imagining himself as a carton of orange juice and freaking out whenever anyone tried to change his diaper. His carefully cultivated moderate image is a mirage designed to fool suburbanites turned off by Trump’s honesty and Cruz’s sliminess.

It’s too early to say whether John Kasich will be able to take delegates away from Trump in New York, but it’s definitely within the realm of possibility. As the Wisconsin campaign showed, the GOP’s power brokers will fight tooth and nail to keep the Donald from getting the nomination. An LSD-addled burnout like Kasich is the perfect tool for such a task.