Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Ohio Senate Republican Primary Tests Trump's Influence in the GOP

Today marks the start of the primary election season.  Indiana and Ohio are first up. 

We're going to have an early test of former President Donald Trump's influence over the GOP.  He has endorsed "Hillbilly Ellegy" author J.D. Vance.  This is despite the fact that other Republican candidates, including most notably former state treasurer Josh Mandel, have desperately sought his endorsement.

Just a couple months ago, Vance was polling in the teens.  Helped by Trump's endorsement, Vance is now up to a 26 point average in the Real Clear Politics average of polls.  Mandel, the former front runner, has declined slightly to 22.5% while businessman Mike Gibbons, once a top candidate, has dropped back to 15%.  

J.D. Vance

The surprise of late is that Ohio state senator Mike Dolan, who has mostly self-funded his campaign, appears to be surging.  While it's a stretch to say Dolan is anti-Trump, he has not hesitated to call out Trump for saying the election was stolen. Dolan has made it a point to say the focus needs to be on the future, not looking back at 2020.  That has earned him the ire of Donald Trump who has personally called him unqualified for the Senate.  But Dolan's approach seems to be gaining traction.  While he polled in the single digits just two months ago, he is now at 21.5% in the RCP average of polls.

My guess is it's a little too late for Dolan.  I expect that Vance will win the primary by a handful of points over Dolan.  Look for Mandel to finish third.

While Trumpers are likely to celebrate a Vance primary win tonight, there is another group that's going to be celebrating: Democrats.  Ohio Democrats are looking forward to running against Vance who has had to go so Trumpy to win the nomination, that he is unlikely to shake the association for the general election.  No doubt the Democrats have plenty of footage of Vance campaigning with Reps. Marjorie Taylor "Jewish Space Laser" Greene and Matt Gaetz, who may be under indictment by November.   

Meanwhile, Ohio Democrats appear likely to nominate Congressman Tim Ryan, a moderate Democrat who has honed an appeal to working class voters.  He is very much in the mold of the other U.S. Senator from Ohio, Democrat Sherrod Brown.  Vance's best hope is that it is an extremely good Republican year which will sweep him into office despite his being damaged goods.

In the other marquee Ohio race, look for Trump to take a loss.  Despite his best efforts, Governor Mike DeWine, a sometimes Trump critic, appears poised to win the GOP nomination.  The popular DeWine will then almost certainly cruise to re-election in November.

So, expect the Ohio GOP primary to offer a split decision.

Meanwhile, in Indiana not much is going on.  Due to restrictive petition requirements, there is only one Democratic Senate candidate, former Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr. who is set to take on sitting U.S. Senator Todd Young.  Young faces no competition in the Republican primary.

Indiana does have some interesting state legislative races, at least on the Republican side.  The Indianapolis Star did an interesting piece featuring some of the races, though the Star writer lazily falls into the trap of just assuming most of those races involve moderate officeholders being challenged by more conservative opponents.

I'm most interested in the fate of Rep. John Jacobs whose house district is based in Johnson County. Jacobs has said that "the Roman Catholic Church is a cult and of Satan, that its parishioners should repent and leave the church, and that the Pope is an anti-Christ."

As a Catholic, I'm well aware that my religion has plenty of flaws and deserves plenty of criticism.  But a "cult?"  If the Catholic Church is a cult, it's the worst run cult ever. The Pope will make a pronouncement on an issue, for example birth control, and 80% of Catholics will dismiss the Pope's position and refuse to follow it.  Catholics listen to the Pope and then do whatever they want to do.  It's been that way for years.

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