All eyes are on two Republican primaries in the Buckeye State: The Senate contest will determine the nominee to replace retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, while the gubernatorial primary will show whether Gov. Mike DeWine can successfully beat back two challengers from his right flank as he seeks a second term.
“It’s OK to change your mind. In fact, you should change your mind when the facts change and I think that’s the truth about my view of President Trump,” Vance said Monday.
Trump’s endorsement of Vance may have created a jolt of momentum for the author, helping him roughly double his support between a Fox poll in March and another one in April.
But most of the other top GOP candidates vying for Ohio’s Senate seat — including former state treasurer Josh Mandel, businessman Mike Gibbons and former state party chair Jane Timken, who all sought Trump’s endorsement — have hammered Vance for his past statements about the former President, arguing that they raise questions about his authenticity as a conservative.
Addressing Vance’s past criticism during a tele-rally for him on the eve of the election, Trump said Vance has “said some negative things about me, but he’s made up for it in spades.”
“I think I can say that he’s 1,000% with us,” the former President added.
Mandel, in turn, got an assist in the final days on the campaign trail from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who urged Ohio Republicans to pay less attention to endorsements and more to the consistency of a candidate’s record as a conservative.
Ohio gubernatorial primaries
The governor, who has built deep ties in Republican circles over many years of public service in Ohio, won national acclaim in the early days of the pandemic for his careful handling of the rise in Covid-19 cases. But as pandemic restrictions became more polarizing, he became a frequent target of the right and of Trump, which appeared to make him vulnerable as he set out to win a second term as governor.
Despite his harsh words about DeWine, though, Trump steered clear of the race, which kept his base from consolidating behind any one candidate.
In Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, there’s a rematch between Democratic Rep. Shontel Brown and Nina Turner. Brown won the support of Biden as well as some moderate-aligned outside groups, but Turner, a former Ohio state senator who was a key player on the presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is hoping to galvanize progressives to carry her to victory in the newly drawn district, which includes more of Cleveland.
In Indiana, GOP Sen. Todd Young and Democrat Thomas McDermott, who is the mayor of Hammond, are running uncontested in their respective Senate primaries on Tuesday.
Paul LeBlanc, Gabby Orr and Ethan Cohen contributed this report.