Trump-Backed Candidates Win Big in Ohio Primaries

J. D. Vance, author of bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, won the Republican nomination for US Senate in Ohio.


J. D. Vance, venture capitalist and author of bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, won the Republican primary for US Senate in Ohio bolstered by the support of former president Donald Trump.

  • Tuesday’s primaries in Ohio and Indiana produced victories for moderates on the Democratic side and largely Trump-backed and Trump-aligned candidates on the Republican side.
  • Before Trump announced his pick, Vance was languishing in third place behind ex-Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, the one-time frontrunner.
  • Trump’s endorsement – plus a $15 million cash infusion from billionaire Peter Thiel – helped power Vance to a 93,000-vote margin of victory over Mandel and Matt Dolan, whose third-place finish was just 6,000 votes behind Mandel.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine won renomination with a 48.1 percent plurality over two Trump-aligned (but crucially, not Trump-endorsed) candidates who combined for 49.8 percent of the GOP vote.
  • Ohio Democrats nominated Youngstown-area Rep. Tim Ryan for US Senate and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley for Governor. Ryan and Whaley will face uphill battles against Vance and DeWine, respectively, in this Republican-trending state.

reporting from the left side of the aisle

  • The New York Times observed Trump’s influence extended down the ballot. Max Miller won the GOP nomination for Ohio’s solidly Republican 7th District with Trump’s backing, and dark horse candidate J.R. Majewski defeated two state legislators for the right to challenge Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in the newly redrawn 9th District, which is expected to be competitive.
  • The Daily Beast covered the Democratic primary rematch between moderate Rep. Shontel Brown and progressive Nina Turner, who was backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Brown narrowly defeated Turner in a 2021 special election for this Cleveland-area seat, but this time she crushed Turner by a 66-33 margin.
  • Politico went behind-the-scenes of Vance’s primary victory, chronicling how Vance’s purposefully inflammatory rhetoric, avoidance of his ‘Never-Trump’ past, Peter Thiel’s $15 million investment, and unconventional coordination between the Vance campaign and his super PAC contributed to his big win.

  • Fox News profiled Jennifer-Ruth Green, who won the Republican primary for Indiana’s competitive 1st District. Green, an African-American Air Force veteran, would be the only black female Republican in the House if she defeats Rep. Frank Mrvan (D) in November.
  • The Wall Street Journal said Vance’s victory was a “sign of Trump’s influence” and quoted the likely next Senator from Ohio, who said, “This campaign, I really think, was a referendum on what kind of a Republican Party we want and what kind of a country we want.”
  • Breitbart highlighted the big night for GOP women. In addition to Green in IN-01, Erin Houchin will be the likely next Representative from Indiana’s 9th District and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert will be the GOP nominee in Ohio’s competitive 13th District.

    Author’s Take

Tuesday’s Ohio and Indiana primaries were an unambiguously good night for former President Donald Trump. His pick in Ohio, J.D. Vance, outperformed his polls to win the nomination by a substantial margin, benefitting from a surge in Election Day turnout. Max Miller, the Trump-backed candidate for Ohio’s open 7th District, won easily over a divided field and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert will be the GOP nominee in Ohio’s 13th District with his support.

Trump’s decision to not endorse in some races paid off for him as well. Trump had previously criticized Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Indiana Sen. Todd Young and refused to endorse either for reelection. Since DeWine easily beat two Trump-aligned challengers and Young won renomination unopposed, any Trump-backed primary challenger would’ve likely been defeated.

Had DeWine’s challenger, Jim Renacci, won an upset victory, Trump would’ve likely been credited with that victory anyway, giving him the best of both worlds. Along those lines, Trump can claim credit for J.R. Majewski and Jennifer-Ruth Green’s victories in OH-09 and IN-01, respectively. He did not endorse in either race, but the two candidates won primaries for competitive House seats by emphasizing their loyalty to the former president in comparison with their rivals. The former president is off to a strong start this primary season.

Return to Freespoke

© Dominic Moore, 2022