COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Best-selling author JD Vance won the controversial and hyper-competitive Ohio Senate GOP primary, backed by the endorsement of Donald Trump in a race widely seen as an early test of power. ex-president’s grip on his party as the midterm season kicks into high gear.
Vance’s win ends an exceptionally bitter and expensive primary contest that at one point saw two candidates nearly come to blows on a debate stage. And it marks a major victory for Trump, who has staked his reputation as a GOP kingmaker on his ability to get his chosen candidates across the finish line.
READ MORE: 2022 Ohio Primary Election Results
Vance was behind in the polls before Trump entered the race less than three weeks ago, endorsing author and venture capitalist “Hillbilly Elegy” despite Vance’s history as a vocal critic of Trump. Vance has since said he was wrong and, like most of his rivals, tied himself to the former president, eagerly courting his endorsement and showing up on his “America First” platform, stressing how the GOP has transformed itself in its image.
Vance will face Democrat Tim Ryan, the 10-term Democratic congressman who easily won his three-way primary on Tuesday night. But November’s general election to fill the seat vacated by retired Republican Senator Rob Portman is expected to be a tough climb for Ryan in a state Trump has won twice by an 8-point margin and in what should be a Brutal election year for Democrats trying to hold on to their majorities in Congress.
Tuesday marks the first multi-state contest of the 2022 campaign and comes the day after a leaked draft opinion from the US Supreme Court suggests the court may be set to overturn the landmark decision. of 1973 Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion nationwide. Such a move could have a dramatic impact on the course of the midterm elections, when control of Congress, governors’ mansions and key election offices hangs in the balance.
At the Strongsville Library in suburban Cleveland, George Clark, 84, said he voted for Vance based on Trump’s endorsement.
“I know he got bad press, but I know he’s Conservative and I always vote Conservative.” said Clark.
But Joanne Mondak, 71, said she voted for State Sen. Matt Dolan, the only major candidate not to aggressively woo Trump. The rest of the field, she said, are “cakes” that are “too Trump.”
Trump reminded voters in Ohio on Tuesday of his interest in the race.
Calling on a radio show from Columbus, Trump praised all the candidates for the GOP nomination, but said he chose to endorse Vance despite his past criticism of Trump because he believed he was in the best position. to win the seat in November.
Vance was trailing in the polls until the former president endorsed the “Hillbilly Elegy” author and former Trump critic in a contest that largely revolved around him. While the timing of Trump’s endorsement — less than three weeks before Election Day and with early voting already underway — may have dampened its impact, it was a blow for the former treasurer of State Josh Mandel, Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons and former Ohio Republican. President Jane Timken, who had gone to great lengths to woo Trump and his constituents.
The race will also be the most expensive in state history, with more than $66 million spent on television and radio, according to Columbus-based company Medium Buying.
Ryan, a 10-term Democratic congressman who failed to run for president in 2020, tried to distance himself from the National Democratic Party ahead of what is expected to be a brutal November for Democrats. Campaigning in sweatshirts and baseball caps, he posed as a blue-collar crusader fighting for working families.
During his acceptance speech, Ryan got emotional talking about the community his steelworker grandfather was able to build while working a well-paying union job.
“I’m absolutely certain we can do it if we come together, and it’s not about finding our differences. It’s not about hate,” he said.
Buoyed by historical trends and the deep unpopularity of Democratic President Joe Biden, Republicans are optimistic about the resumption of the House and Senate in November. A new president’s party almost always loses seats in subsequent midterm elections, and Republicans are hoping that soaring inflation, high energy prices and lingering frustrations over the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will further strengthen their prospects.
Democrats, meanwhile, are banking on the GOP — with Trump’s help — to elect candidates so extreme they will prove ineligible in November. A Supreme Court ruling on abortion could also galvanize mainstream Democratic voters.
“By all rights, history tells us the Democrats are going to lose control of the House,” said Dale Butland, a Democratic strategist from Ohio. “By all rights, we should also lose control of the Senate. However, the only thing that could save us is if the Republicans nominate a bunch of extreme right-wing lunatics who are unacceptable in a general election.
Also in Ohio, Democrat Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton, will face Republican incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine in the Ohio general election after the two secured their parties’ nominations on Tuesday night.
While DeWine is widely known in Ohio after a 40-year political career, he faced a fierce backlash from conservatives over the COVID-19 shutdowns and mandates he imposed in the early months of the pandemic.
DeWine’s three opponents — former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, former state Rep. Ron Hood and farmer Joe Blystone — all tapped into that anger, but appeared to have split the far-right vote. Still, DeWine took no chances and poured millions into advertising in the final weeks of the race.
LOOK: Trump pushes Republican candidates in Ohio Senate primary further to the right
On the Democratic side, Whaley became the first woman in state history to receive major party support. She beat former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley in a race that has garnered relatively little attention as much of the state has focused on the contentious Senate Republicans primary and legal battle in course on redistricting. Whaley had the backing of the state’s top Democrat, popular name U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, while Cranley had the backing of feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
The two candidates agreed on most major issues — guns, abortion rights, social justice — but Whaley had repeatedly pointed out that Cranley had only recently said he was pro. -choice.
Trump-backed Secretary of State Frank LaRose won his party’s nomination for another term, beating conservative challenger John Adams, who questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election. LaRose will face the Democrat Suburban Cincinnati City Council member and businesswoman Chelsea Clark during the November general election.
In the House, Republican Max Miller, a former Trump campaign aide and White House aide, won the GOP nomination in northeast Ohio’s sprawling new 7th District, despite claims by his ex- girlfriend, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, that he grew violent with her as their relationship deteriorated. He denied the charges.
Miller was originally recruited to challenge Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. But Gonzalez chose to retire instead.
Meanwhile, in Indiana, more than a dozen members of the State House are trying to fend off major Republican challengers who want to push the Legislature further to the right.
Colvin reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Patrick Orsagas in Columbus, Steve Peoples in New York and Mark Gillispie in Strongsville, Ohio contributed to this report.
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