Jeb Bush has a new nemesis, and it isn’t Donald Trump.
Presidential hopeful, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), is quietly rising in the polls in New Hampshire, capitalizing on a strong debate performance where he seemed at ease in the spotlight.
With many in the Republican Party seeking to find a Trump slayer, Kasich’s late-summer surge is threatening to steal away the mantle of establishment favorite that Bush had long been expected to claim.
"Of all the candidates out there in terms of corralling the establishment voters, Kasich is a clear and present danger of taking them," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told The Hill.
The threat to Bush is clear.
A survey released this week by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) found Kasich in second place in New Hampshire, thanks to increased support among moderate voters.
A Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce University poll released days after the first GOP debate earlier this month found Bush and Kasich neck and neck at 13 percent and 12 percent in New Hampshire, respectively.
Regardless, "New Hampshire is the spark," O’Connell said, noting that it's difficult to gain traction in the other early-voting states without big national poll numbers and attention.
"If [Kasich] can actually win New Hampshire, then the game board changes," O'Connell added.
Bush and Kasich share many similarities; both have executive experience as governor of a large swing state, and both have broken with the rest of the field on issues such as immigration and Common Core education standards.
"Bush's theory is inclusive conservative, Kasich's is compassionate conservative," O'Connell said.