John Kasich names RI campaign co-chairs

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at a town hall at The Hall at Senate's End in Columbia, S.C., Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich, hoping to make inroads in New England after a strong showing in New Hampshire, announced his campaign’s leadership team in Rhode Island late Monday night.

The Ohio governor’s state campaign co-chairs are former Lt. Gov. Bernard Jackvony, who served from 1997 to 1999 after being appointed to finish Democrat Robert Weygand’s term, and former state Sen. Dawson Hodgson, who made an unsuccessful bid for attorney general in 2014.

“As a presidential candidate, Governor Kasich has stood alone as a statesman, committed to an honest and positive message that we as Americans can work together to realize the full promise of our country,” Hodgson said in a statement. “I’m grateful he’s running, and I’m proud to stand with him.”

No polling has been conducted in Rhode Island to test voters’ preferences ahead of the state’s April 26 presidential primary, but an Emerson College poll of Massachusetts voters released Sunday showed Kasich in third place with 13% support, behind Donald Trump (50%) and Marco Rubio (16%). The Bay State primary is next Tuesday.

With Monday’s announcement, Kasich joins other GOP candidates who’ve announced their top supporters in Rhode Island.

Donald Trump’s honorary Rhode Island campaign chairman is state Rep. Joseph Trillo. Rubio’s leadership team is led by veteran policymaker Gary Sasse. The state coordinators for Ted Cruz’s campaign are Pawtucket GOP Chairman Lester Olson and North Providence resident John Donovan.

Among other candidates, South Kingstown resident Rob Sullivan is leading Ben Carson’s PAC locally, according to the state party. Jeb Bush’s campaign announced its local leadership team just 24 hours before he dropped out Saturday night, and former candidate Chris Christie had the strong support of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung.

On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have strong networks of support in the state, which has backed the Clintons repeatedly in past elections. But neither campaign has formally announced Rhode Island campaign leadership so far.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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