By STEVE PEOPLES and JULIE CARR SMYTH
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who’s spent the year testing his scrappy political style and pragmatic policy positions around the country, plans to formally enter the 2016 presidential race July 21.
The two-term governor, who leads one of the nation’s premier swing states, is expected to formally join the crowded Republican primary field at an announcement set for Ohio State University, according to senior advisers.
The advisers spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss Kasich’s plans.
Kasich, 63, would join a GOP field that already includes more than a dozen high-profile candidates. He isn’t as well-known as some of his likely Republican competitors, but he has been involved in national politics for more than three decades. He previously served in Congress for 18 years.
No Republican has won the White House without carrying Ohio, and in 2016 the state holds extra weight as Cleveland plays host to the National Republican Convention.
It would be Kasich’s second bid for the nation’s top job. He briefly sought the 2000 nomination before George W. Bush emerged as a Republican favorite. That earlier bid came after Kasich led efforts to balance the federal budget in 1997.
It’s unclear if Kasich’s late entry into the 2016 contest would complicate his participation in the first Republican debate, which is in Cleveland in August. Only announced candidates will be invited. Beyond the timing, only those candidates who rank in the top 10 in national polling would be allowed on the debate stage and, as it currently stands, Kasich does not.
Since January, he’s been traveling the country in a nationwide effort to line up necessary support to call for a federal balanced budget amendment, which he views as an extension of his efforts nearly two decades ago.
His recent travels have also included political trips to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, New York and Michigan, trips that gave him an opportunity to test his scrappy political style and his track record as governor on a broader audience. The trips have also included meetings with potential political donors.
Kasich is considered more moderate than some of his Republican rivals
He also is known for going off script and for pulling no punches about political positions he sees as practical though they might anger fellow Republicans. Kasich advocated income-tax cuts and expanded Medicaid under the federal health care law and has taken on oil-and-gas producers while supporting Common Core education standards.
With the selection of Ohio State as the venue for his announcement, Kasich returns to his roots. It was there that the native of blue-collar McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, honed his political skills as a young college Republican. The event is expected to be held at the student union.
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