Ohio Gov. John Kasich continues to make inroads with Republican establishment leaders in the South as he announced his Georgia leadership team, led by Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens.
Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody; Sandy Springs Mayor and former state party chair Rusty Paul; John Watson, a political consultant and chief of staff to Gov. Sonny Perdue; Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis; LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton; and Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman are also on board. Cowsert and Watson will be Kasich's Georgia co-chairs.
Here's Kasich's statement:
“In state after state, region after region, I continue to be humbled by the support we are seeing and the momentum we are gaining. Georgia is an incredibly important state, and I am grateful to have such respected, experienced Georgia Republicans stand up and express their support for my vision for this country. The team of Cowsert, Millar, Paul and Watson represent exactly what you want as you build an operation in a state – strength, experience and proven political success.”
In addition, Kasich listed Republican activists John Stoj, Dan Israel, Mark Middleton, William Woodall, Ashley Jenkins and Steve Schultz as part of his steering committee.
Kasich made an early visit to Georgia in May and is working to gain steam in the establishment side of the Republican nomination bracket as a long-serving congressman with executive experience who has won big in a state that Republicans must have to win the presidency. He has managed to woo Southern elites in Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, former Mississippi U.S. Sen. Trent Lott and others.
Kasich's biggest competition in the establishment bracket is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has raised gobs of money in Georgia and counts Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Attorney General Sam Olens and several Gold Dome figures in his corner.