Primary Season Begins

On Tuesday, May 3, Ohio and Indiana held their primaries for the upcoming midterm elections.

NBC News
Jonathan Good
Leans Left
Stephen Webber
Leans Right

OH Senate Primary. On Tuesday, Ohio and Indiana held their primaries for the upcoming midterm elections, beginning a busy month full of these contests. Most political pundits focused their attention on the U.S. Senate primaries in Ohio. Incumbent Senator Rob Portman is retiring, leading to an expensive and crowded Republican race to replace him. A who’s who of Ohio Republican politics flocked to the field — author J.D. Vance, former state treasurer Josh Mandel, former Chairwoman of the Ohio GOP Jane Timken, businessman Mike Gibbons, and State Senator Matt Dolan appeared as leading candidates at various points in the race. 

Trump’s Endorsement Power. While prominent Republicans — such as retiring Portman, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) — weighed in, endorsing and campaigning with several different candidates, analysts widely viewed the race as a test of former President Trump’s role as kingmaker in the party. Most candidates openly sought Trump’s endorsement in the primary, with Vance earning his seal of approval in mid-March. The announcement boosted Vance, who won Tuesday’s primary with just under a third of the vote. Congressman Tim Ryan cruised to victory in the Democratic primary but is considered the underdog for the Republican-leaning seat. Only one Democrat has won a statewide race in Ohio in the last decade, though Democrats hope Ryan’s working-class message could lead to an upset.

Other Takeaways. While Trump’s influence on the Republican Party was on full display throughout many of Tuesday’s races — including various congressional primaries — he did not weigh in on the Republican primary for Ohio governor. Incumbent Ohio Governor Mike DeWine fended off several challengers from his right, although he notably did not garner a majority of the vote. DeWine is the favorite in the race against former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley this November. Whaley became the first woman to win a major party nomination for governor in Ohio after winning her primary. Several of Tuesday’s Democratic primaries featured the familiar progressive/establishment split, though progressives largely came up short. Ryan and Congresswoman Shontel Brown (OH-11) handily beat their left-wing opponents.

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