The potential 2020 Democratic contenders

Let’s assume that surnames alone — down even to their phonemes — portend a presidential election in 2020 between John Kasich and Bob Casey.

Kasich vs. Casey, either of whom might very well prove capable of restoring dignity, respect, intelligence, and sanity to the White House.

Kasich, 62, term-limited two-term governor of Ohio, is a Republican moderate and author of several books. His passionately expressed values of “the Heartland” during the GOP debates of 2016 stood in stark contrast to everything Donald Trump represented. He had distinguished himself as a “budget hawk” during nine terms in the House of Representatives. Although he became a pundit for Fox News for six years following his retirement from Congress, he refused to attend the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio or to vote for Trump.

John Kasich possesses what might be termed “moral imagination”–not to mention indignation.

Who else might revivify a truly responsible, truly “conservative” (and “compassionate) Republican Party?

Bob Casey’s dad, the late Robert Patrick Casey, Sr., was governor of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1995. In 2006 Casey defeated Republican opponent Rick Santorum by 59 to 41 percent of the vote, the largest margin of any senatorial contest in the commonwealth’s history.

If he completes his current third term, Casey, 58, will stand as the longest-serving senator in Pennsylvania history. He describes himself as prolife but has taken positions on federal funding for Planned Parenthood that have alienated the most rabid prolife elements.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, 69, has been a “firebrand” champion of consumer protection and banking regulations. Like prospective Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (again), she would be demonized as an extremist of “the left” if she is nominated.

Bernie Sanders, 72, ran a passionate and honorable campaign again Hillary Clinton in 2016 but would be pilloried for his “socialist” positions if he runs again.

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, 47, would represent a generational transformation but is little known nationally.

Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, 58, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, 52, have been outspoken liberals in the Senate. Klobuchar distinguished herself in confronting Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his tempestuous address before the Judiciary Committee following the appearance of accuser Christine Blasey Ford in September. Gillibrand, appointed in September 2008 to the Senate seat held by Hillary Clinton, is concerned about a “lack of diversity” among potential candidates for the Democratic ticket in 2020.

Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, 66, a native of Narberth, Pa., leads an important swing state. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, 45, has campaigned courageously against the gun lobby but also lacks national recognition. In his third term as governor, Andrew Cuomo of New York, 61, might be considered a “dark horse.”

The nomination of Michelle Obama, 54, or Oprah Winfrey, 64, needless to say, would be blockbusters.

But . . . keep a close eye on former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, 44, secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014 to 2017 under Obama, who is now “mulling” a presidential race.

The First Focus on Rural America survey conducted recently among Democratic caucus voters in Iowa showed Joe Biden leading with 30 percent, Bernie Sanders in 2nd with 13 percent, former Senate candidate Beta O’Rourke of Texas, 46, in 3rd with 11 percent, and Sen. Klobuchar in 4th with 10 percent.

“Casey — why not? — dips toes into Dem presidential race,” editorialized the Sun-Gazette, going on to note his opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, his championship of DACA immigrants, etc. “Casey fashions himself as a centrist, bipartisan type, but the results have been pretty much the same sort of party-line divisiveness that is holding the country back.”

But Casey, along with the commonwealth’s junior senator, Republican Pat Toomey, perhaps hold the key to the Senate’s long-overdue legislation in prison reform, including sentencing and rehabilitation programming.

Prison reform will be a major issue in the next two years. So too, of course, will be health care and immigration legislation. And climate change and campaign finance reform. And the prosecution of the 45th president for an array of impeachable crimes.

So too finally will be dignity, respect, intelligence, and sanity in the White House — values that in “the Age of Trump” have been so brazenly degraded.

Nash is author of the two-volume Patsy of the Ages: Lee Harvey Oswald and His Nation Half a Century Later.