Picture this. Okay, maybe hallucinate this. It's late June or early July 2016. Republicans have gathered in Cleveland to pick their party's nominee.


Picture this. Okay, maybe hallucinate this and laugh out loud.

It's late June or early July 2016. Republicans have gathered in Cleveland to pick their party's nominee to take back the White House after two terms of President Obama's leadership. The challenge is to fend off the Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton.

Many mainstream Republicans hope their candidate will champion an agenda that is more inclusive and recognizes the challenges facing working and middle class families and also is more engaging with minorities.

And when the long political primary road is over, and the convention speeches have played out, the nominee is........Ohio's John Kasich.

But is it such a fanciful and far-fetched dream?

There are two very long shots in the way of this story happening.

The first is solidly Democratic Cleveland getting to host the Republican Party's big party.

And the second is, currently little-known-nationwide Governor John Kasich getting the big prize and having it bestowed in his home state.

Cleveland will learn next week if it makes it to the convention swimsuit competition of the finalist round and gets to strut its stuff for a full Republican site selection committee visit.

It's made a strong favorable impression so far as a city that can pull this off. And it's done so with an approach that is low-key, factual and very businesslike.

It may not be the front-runner. Among possible issues with Cleveland's bid? The Cleveland Cavaliers' commitment to the NBA to have Quicken Loans Arena ready for possible playoffs around the GOP's possible convention time and the readiness of the new Convention Center hotel.

As for the possibility of a Kasich nomination, well, that's a political eternity away. But is the path to get there so unbelievable?

Kasich must still win reelection. But at the moment, he's a strong favorite. A new Quinnipiac Unversity Poll has him leading Ed FitzGerald by 15 points. Many observers think that's more realistic than another recent poll that showed the race as a toss-up.

Kasich has said repeatedly he's targeting November and not thinking White House.

But deeds count more than acts. His recent pilgrimage to Las Vegas to audition for megabucks casino-owning and big contributor Sheldon Adelson was transparently obvious.

The Quinnipiac Poll also shows Ohioans now favor Kasich over other Republican presidential possibilities, including Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan.

He still trails Hillary Clinton by five points. But that margin was 12 points in February. So his stock is improving in his key home state.

Governor's race ads portraying him as a solid Midwest-kind-of-guy have no doubt helped.

But think long term for a minute.

If mainstream Republicans truly want a more electable choice, consider what Kasich has to offer. Okay, put aside that Senate Bill 5 attack on public worker unions.

He's expanded Medicare. He's championing more help for the mentally challenged and those battling substance abuse. He's reaching out to minority communities, recently teaming with U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge to attempt to put more African Americans to work on big infrastructure projects.

He's made job creation his central message. But that's a glass half-empty, glass half-full debate. JobsOhio has created jobs . But Ohio still lags behind the rest of the country in rebounding from the recession.

Cleveland began its pursuit of the Republican convention perceived as a long shot. That's where Kasich is now in the Presidential derby handicapping.

But if you had a couple bucks to spare, and could get a casino to take your frivolous bet on a Cleveland Republican convention nominating John Kasich, there would be a big payoff.

And perhaps the ultimate irony, if this hard-to-believe storyline played out?

Who was the public official who did the most to help launch Cleveland's convention pursuit?

Ed FitzGerald.

Follow WKYC's Tom Beres on Twitter @TomBeres

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