US Senate Primary Shows Trumpism Is ‘Alive and Well in Ohio’

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FILE – Senate candidate JD Vance, left, greets former President Donald Trump during a rally at the Delaware County Fairground, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio, to endorse Republican candidates ahead of the presidential primary. ‘Ohio on May 3. as Republicans running in Ohio’s hotly contested Senate primary are fanning out across the state or hosting other events to give their vetted candidates a last-minute boost ahead of Tuesday’s election. The senses. Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, along with Representatives Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, were among the Conservative envoys making the final moves in the critical Senate race. (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

Credit: Joe Maiorana

FILE - Senate candidate JD Vance, left, greets former President Donald Trump during a rally at the Delaware County Fairground, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio, to endorse Republican candidates ahead of the presidential primary. 'Ohio on May 3.  as Republicans running in Ohio's hotly contested Senate primary are fanning out across the state or hosting other events to give their vetted candidates a last-minute boost ahead of Tuesday's election.  The senses.  Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, along with Representatives Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, were among the Conservative envoys making the final moves in the critical Senate race.  (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

Credit: Joe Maiorana

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FILE – Senate candidate JD Vance, left, greets former President Donald Trump during a rally at the Delaware County Fairground, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio, to endorse Republican candidates ahead of the presidential primary. ‘Ohio on May 3. as Republicans running in Ohio’s hotly contested Senate primary are fanning out across the state or hosting other events to give their vetted candidates a last-minute boost ahead of Tuesday’s election. The senses. Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, along with Representatives Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, were among the Conservative envoys making the final moves in the critical Senate race. (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

Credit: Joe Maiorana

Credit: Joe Maiorana

Vance, a Middletown-born author and businessman now living in Cincinnati, won the GOP primary with just over 32 percent of the vote.

Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel of Beachwood, with 23.89%, and State Senator Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, with 23.33%, were nearly tied for second place. Results will not be finalized until late-arriving absentee and provisional ballots have been counted.

Businessman Mike Gibbons of Fairview Park came fourth, followed by former Ohio Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken of Canton, businessman Mark Pukita of Dublin and the business Neil Patel of Westerville.

All seven candidates had similar conservative platforms and spoke about how strongly they supported Trump’s ideas. Dolan was the only Republican candidate to reject Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, leading Trump to label Dolan unfit for the Senate.

“It’s kind of a litmus test for Trump’s support. If you deny the election was stolen, at least if you explicitly deny it like Dolan did, there’s no way he’s going to support you,” said Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton.

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Christopher J. Devine is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton.

Credit: Larry Burgess

Christopher J. Devine is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton.

Credit: Larry Burgess

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Christopher J. Devine is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton.

Credit: Larry Burgess

Credit: Larry Burgess

Dolan said Joe Biden was the rightful winner in 2020, a view backed by multiple investigations, audits, court rulings and Trump’s own Justice Department which found no evidence of widespread fraud or misconduct. election irregularities that would have nullified Biden’s victory over both the People’s and Electoral College. voice.

“If you look at the largely Trumpian candidates, they got (about) 75% of the Republican base vote,” said Lee Hannah, an associate professor of political science at Wright State University. “In this way, again, it shows Trump’s influence on the party. And it shows that those kinds of talking points — a kind of economic populism, nationalist rhetoric — that that’s at least what’s winning the primaries in Ohio.

Indiana’s primary was held on the same day as Ohio, and in both states, all 22 Trump-endorsed Republican candidates, many incumbents or running unopposed, won their races.

“A lot of people he endorsed, when you add up the numbers, it sounds impressive. But most of those people were going to win anyway,” Devine said.

In some key races, Trump failed to make an endorsement, including the GOP primary for Ohio governor, where three candidates challenged Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

“It’s not because (Trump) didn’t have a preference. He supported Jim Renacci in the 2018 Senate race. He criticized Mike DeWine,” Devine said. “We know who he wanted to win. , but I think he was worried that that person couldn’t win.”

Renacci came second in the governor’s primary race with 28% of the vote to DeWine’s 48%.

Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley won the Democratic nomination.

With a long run of primary elections still to come, Hannah said Trump was clearly “the kingmaker of the party.”

“But at the same time, there are still candidates who aren’t going to (win). He’s going to lose some of those races,” Hannah said.

Ryan could follow Sherrod Brown’s playbook

Ohio was once known as a “spinning state” where Republicans and Democrats had similar levels of support, but it has shifted more toward the GOP since Trump won the presidency in 2016.

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US Senate candidate for Ohio, Tim Ryan stopped by United Food Commercial Workers Local 75 on Poe Ave. to speak to local workers about his candidacy for a seat in the Ohio Senate. Ryan is running against Republican JD Vance this fall. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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US Senate candidate for Ohio, Tim Ryan stopped by United Food Commercial Workers Local 75 on Poe Ave.  to speak to local workers about his candidacy for a seat in the Ohio Senate.  Ryan is running against Republican JD Vance this fall.  JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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US Senate candidate for Ohio, Tim Ryan stopped by United Food Commercial Workers Local 75 on Poe Ave. to speak to local workers about his candidacy for a seat in the Ohio Senate. Ryan is running against Republican JD Vance this fall. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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“We’ll see if Tim Ryan can make the general election competitive in a state that’s gone from bellwether to solidly Republican,” Smith said. “Ryan will come up with his own form of populism, while trying to shed the perceived extremes of the National Democratic Party. He will talk about more police, not their funding. It will focus on manufacturing and China. Interestingly, Ryan and Vance will likely sound very similar themes by November.

Ryan has represented his predominantly blue-collar Youngstown-area district in Congress since 2003, and has centered his campaign on pro-worker, jobs and economy themes, boosting manufacturing, and opposing previous trade deals and Chinese policies that he says have sent American jobs overseas.

“If the Democrats have a chance of winning a Senate seat in the state of Ohio, Tim Ryan is that type of guy,” Devine said. “I don’t know if it can be done well. But we have the model of (Democratic U.S. Senator) Sherrod Brown in Ohio, who won by 6.8 points in 2018.”

Ryan “does not focus on burning social issues or foreign policy. It uses a populist economic message like the one that worked for Sherrod Brown,” Devine said.

Besides the state’s Republican leanings, Ryan faces political headwinds. Among them: the historic pattern of a presidential party losing seats in the midterm elections, Biden’s low approval rating and high inflation souring public opinion of an otherwise robust economic recovery.

A warning sign for Democrats is how few of them went to the polls on Tuesday compared to Republicans, who cast nearly 1.1 million votes in Ohio against 510,362 Democrats in the race for Senate, according to the Secretary of State’s report.

Ryan will need a boost for Democrats to vote, and needs to attract independents and weed out Republican voters who can’t support Trump or candidates like Vance who claim the election was stolen from Trump, Devine said.

“I would be curious to see how badly Ryan wants to take on Trump through Vance,” Hannah said. “He’s definitely not going to attribute the ‘big lie’.”

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Lee Hannah, assistant professor of political science at Wright State University.

Lee Hannah, assistant professor of political science at Wright State University.
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Lee Hannah, assistant professor of political science at Wright State University.

Multiple polls show that while roughly two-thirds of Americans believe Biden was legitimately elected president, a majority of Republicans believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

“On the one hand, it’s a galvanizing tool for Republicans,” Hannah said. “The premise is dishonest. I think it works. It makes people angry. It gets people to vote.

Neither Devine nor Hannah think Vance will pivot to try to attract more moderate voters, which has in the past been a common tactic for candidates needing to energize the base for primaries but gain broader support during general elections.

“He clearly pivoted very hard to the right, and it paid off with that Trump endorsement,” Hannah said. “He can look at the national winds, which favor Republicans, the trends in Ohio, which favor Republicans, and he can just estimate that if he reveals the base he’s on.”

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