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Kasich supporters launch local effort

“The adult in the room.”

That’s how two local Republican lawmakers see Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich in the three-way race with Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the party’s presidential nomination.

“If you watch the debates, he really is the adult in the room,” Erie County Legislator Kevin R. Hardwick said. “He’s a guy, by the way, who has the requisite talents to be president of the United States.”

Assemblyman Raymond W. Walter said Kasich has “experience, temperament and electability” from his election to Ohio’s state legislature, Congress where he was chairman of the House budget committee and, now, governor.

“That’s the kind of experience we need in the White House, not a first-term senator or somebody who’s never been in politics before,” Walter said.

Walter and Hardwick convened about 25 Kasich supporters Wednesday evening in a Cheektowaga veterans post for their first organizational meeting ahead of New York’s primary less than two weeks away.

A Quinnipiac University poll released March 31 had Trump leading among the state’s Republicans with 56 percent, followed by Cruz at 20 percent and Kasich with 19 percent.

But the poll also showed that while any of the three Republicans would lose statewide in a head-to-head general election against Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kasich would fare best.

Local Kasich supporters said their focus is on preventing Trump from reaching the 1,237 delegates needed for nomination on the first ballot at the party’s convention in Cleveland by helping Kasich win some of the 95 delegates up for grabs in New York’s April 19 primary.

Kasich has 143 delegates to Trump’s 743 and Cruz’s 517, according to Politico.

At a contested convention, Hardwick said he feels delegates will look for someone who’s “gone through the gauntlet” and turn to Kasich.

“I believe he will be turned to on the second or third ballot and I think he could be our nominee,” Hardwick said. “However, we’ve got to get him there.”

Walter said Kasich could do well in Westchester County, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.

“If we can pick off a couple more out here in Western New York, that would be huge,” he said.

Kasich has not planned a Buffalo appearance ahead of the primary, but a campaign stop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Le Moyne College in Syracuse followed by a rally at 11 a.m. Saturday at Greece Town Hall, near Rochester.