Voting in Ohio and Indiana on Tuesday kicks off a busy primary month that will set up some of the key races for this year’s midterms.
In both states, voters will choose their candidates from newly redrawn congressional precincts. In the Cleveland area, that means a Democratic revenge that could offer a window into the strength of the party’s progressive wing more than a year into Joe Biden’s presidency.
Here are five things to watch for Tuesday:
The broad-Senate primary: The GOP’s seven-candidate race to replace retired Republican Sen. Rob Portman features a wide swath of undecided primary voters choosing from a series of options: the candidate former President Trump endorsed; one of many who tried to imitate him; or one that represents a break with Trumpism.
Polls show Trump-backed JD Vance, the ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author and venture capitalist, and Josh Mandel, the former state treasurer who embraced Trump’s culture battles and campaigned with the senator texan Ted Cruz, are leading the pack.
There are, however, indications that Senator Matt Dolan is a late riser. Dolan, whose family owns Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians, is the only candidate who has not replicated Trump’s lies about voter fraud. Dolan saw his action rise in a Fox News poll last week, drawing 11% support from 7% in March.
The other Republican candidates for the Senate, self-funded businessman Mike Gibbons and former GOP chairwoman Jane Timken, Portman’s favorite candidate, have faded in the polls in the final stretch of the race.
Test of Trump’s influence: Mandel’s campaign signs say he is “pro-God, pro-gun, pro-Trump.” Gibbons offered himself as a businessman, not a politician, in the mold of Trump. Timken touted Trump’s role in her elevation to state GOP chair in 2017.
But the former president shunned them all and endorsed Vance, who in 2016 was a vocal opponent of Trump but has since backed off that criticism. Trump’s decision infuriated many Republicans in Ohio and confused some GOP voters, who were bombarded with both pro-Vance ads touting Trump’s support and anti-Vance ads that showed him saying that he might vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and that some Trump supporters “voted for (Trump) for racist reasons.”
Tim Ryan is looking for a room in Ohio: The Democratic Senate primary of Representative Tim Ryan against attorney Morgan Harper is largely won. How Ryan fare in the general election — and what his race says about the future of Democrats in the state — will be anything but inevitable.
Ryan is looking to do something that has eluded all unnamed Democrats Sen. Sherrod Brown for years: Win a statewide race in Ohio. No Democrat other than Brown has won a nonjudicial office statewide in Ohio since 2008, and President Barack Obama was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win Ohio in 2012. Ryan is also trying to accomplish this feat at a particularly difficult time for Democrats as the party faces historical and economic headwinds.
Battle for the soul of the Democratic Party – again: For the second time in less than a year, Democrats Shontel Brown, now a House member, and Nina Turner face off in a close race to be their party’s nominee in Ohio’s 11th congressional district.
Although Brown is now the incumbent, Progressives are once again campaigning fiercely to claim the heavily Democratic seat – as they seek to ensure that come November, House Democrats will be a more progressive bunch. at the next Congress. Turner has the support of leading progressives across the country and, like last year, the editorial board of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.
On Brown’s side are President Joe Biden, who backed her in late April, and a handful of top Democratic officials and moderate outside groups like the Democratic Majority for Israel’s super PAC, which says it has spent more $1.1 million for his campaign.
The Republican primary clash that wasn’t: There was a time when incumbent Governor Mike DeWine seemed vulnerable to a challenge from Trump-aligned candidates running to his right.
DeWine, who has spent decades in federal and state office, is a titan of the conservative establishment in Ohio, but even though the state has moved to the right, DeWine — both by temperament and politically – stayed in the middle of the GOP.
DeWine’s victory in an Ohio campaign season dominated by the wild GOP Senate primary would also underscore the unique difficulties faced by right-wing candidates aligned or supported by Trump in statewide elections. , where some degree of moderation seems to have more appeal than in federal races.
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