Blurry-eyed Republicans looking for a plausible candidate to represent their party in November should turn to Ohio Gov. John Kasich. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ signature candor is a refreshing change from status quo politics.

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Editor’s note: The crucial process of selecting the nation’s presidential candidates proceeds painfully far away. Washington’s voters are largely sidelined, with Democrats selecting their delegates in March 26 caucuses and Republicans selecting theirs in a May 24 primary.  Regardless, the spectacle, especially on the Republican side, has prompted the editorial board to make our primary and caucus recommendations early.

John Kasich, the credible GOP option

Blurry-eyed Republicans looking for a plausible candidate to represent their party in November should turn to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

As Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio descend into the cesspool maelstrom, Kasich offers the experience, composure, dignity and authentic achievement of a credible candidate.

The former member of Congress, who chaired the House budget committee in the late 1990s, is certifiably conservative on a range of fiscal and social topics.

Kasich, the two-term governor and former state legislator, is an electable alternative to the GOP sideshow of pretenders to the Oval Office. Americans need not cringe at the thought of him representing the United States on the international stage.

He combines the experience of a lawmaker at the state and federal levels, with the realities of putting laws into effect as an elected executive. He knows the day-to-day realities of making budgets work, not just debating them.

His politics and policies on the campaign trail can employ the fulsome arm-waving that goes with the challenge of moving up from far back in a crowded field.

Kasich opposes reproductive rights and wags a finger at Planned Parenthood. He promises to slash taxes, eliminate Obamacare, freeze all manner of government services, cut federal regulations, and overhaul and rebuild the U.S. military.

His rhetoric and arithmetic might not add up, but he is playing to the audience he sees. Kasich’s foreign-policy pronouncements are loud and assertive, but he invokes NATO and other allies in his vision of how to confront overseas challenges.

Kasich will acknowledge the reality of climate change, and then skitter away. But he is clearly beyond mindless denial of environmental complexities.

Kasich is a worthy refuge for Republicans who will eventually tire of tormenting the GOP establishment with political flirtations with the goofy field representing the party.

Bernie Sanders, the refreshing choice

Authenticity and consistency are so rare in politics these days — no wonder a strong number of voters are supporting U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid to become the Democratic candidate for president.

Sanders’ signature candor is a refreshing change from status quo politics.

Many Americans share his frustration over the fact that more and more power is being concentrated today in the hands of a few.

He is the only candidate in this race, on either side of the aisle, who has spoken forcefully — and over years — against Wall Street’s willingness to take enormous risks while expecting public bailouts.

Sanders advocates for breaking up big banks now and bringing back a new version of the repealed Glass-Steagall Act that would prevent financial institutions from spending customers’ money so recklessly in the future.

Sanders bravely calls out the role of big money in politics and supports a repeal of the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision. He has long warned about the dangers of media consolidation, which limits the range of information citizens need to maintain a strong democracy.

Overall, Sanders is not as politically experienced as Hillary Clinton, who knows the ropes in both the executive and legislative branches. She is right to call out Sanders’ impracticality (with the current Congress) in wanting to move the U.S. toward a single-payer health-care system.

But she comes with increasing challenges, not the least of which are ongoing questions about her home email server when she was secretary of state.

At this time, Sanders’ strength lies in his ability to generate important discussions on topics other entrenched politicians are too timid to touch.