LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Republican presidential underdog John Kasich has tapped Southern California businessman and developer Rick Caruso to serve as his national finance and California campaign co-chair.

Caruso, best known as the developer of malls such as The Grove and The Americana at Brand, has served on the Los Angeles Police Commission and the Department of Water and Power commission. His name often surfaces as a potential mayoral candidate, although he has not thrown his hat in the ring.

“It has become very clear that John Kasich is the best candidate in this race,” Caruso said. “He has produced positive results as the governor of Ohio, and has a track record of strong leadership in both the public and private sectors. He is the only candidate who can unite this country.

“His uplifting, positive message will stand out here in California, as well as in the other critical states left to vote,” he said.

Kasich called Caruso a “business visionary.”

“His depth of character can be seen in his influence in his industry as well as his passion for philanthropy in his community,” Kasich said. “I am grateful to have his business acumen and his deep dedication to America on our side as we build toward winning the White House.”

The California primary on June 7 could play a bigger-than-usual role in the presidential race, as no Republican hopeful has yet won the required number of delegates to secure the nomination before the party’s National Convention.

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