At this point, there’s no denying it: Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement is nothing less than a golden ticket for Republican candidates looking to score a win in the 2022 midterm elections.
According to the Washington Examiner, the upcoming Republican Senate primary in Ohio further proves that candidates will do and say almost anything in the hopes of snagging a Trump endorsement, especially in a state Trump won twice, as a number of GOP candidates vying to fill the soon-to-be-vacant seat of retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) were not always fans of the former president.
What’s going on?
Already, there’s a proverbial line around the corner of GOP candidates hoping to fill Portman’s Senate seat, with several of the candidates espousing a Trump-centric way of doing things. That’s important, given Trump’s obvious large base of support in the Buckeye State.
Author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, who recently entered the Republican primary race, is a prime example of a candidate who, suddenly, is modeling his campaign to prove to voters that they have the populist vision that Trump deployed with great success.
Vance was initially critical of the former president and didn’t vote for him in the 2016 election, but apparently, times have changed, and Republican insiders have suggested that he’s undergone a “heartfelt political transformation,” as the Examiner reported, though many have accused his newfound populist vision as “contrived.”
Wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno, who once called Trump a lunatic, and fellow wealthy businessman Mike Gibbons, who once talked about the “cult of personality” surrounding Trump’s base of supporters, are now taking a page out of Trump’s campaign playbook.
The two businessmen are presenting themselves to Ohio voters as outsider candidates with the business experience to keep the state on a successful track, much like the former president did on a national level in his 2016 campaign. Notably, Moreno has the support of Kellyanne Conway, who delivered Trump a victory in 2016 over political powerhouse Hillary Clinton.
Betting on Josh Mandel
Many Ohio Republicans are leaning toward Josh Mandel as a strong contender, with Mandel being one of the few, if not only, GOP candidates who doesn’t have any negative history with the former president.
“Josh is the most conservative candidate in the race and the most pro-Trump candidate in the race. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we are in a strong position,” Mandel’s campaign manager said, according to the Examiner.
Mandel’s only kryptonite might be a recent controversy surrounding a relationship he engaged in with one of his top aides, which reportedly led to several of his campaign staffers leaving their positions, all of whom cited a toxic work environment.
Mandel also has a considerable advantage, money-wise, as he’ll enter the 2022 Republican primary with an impressive, leftover campaign war chest from his aborted, 2018 Senate run.
Only time will tell who emerges as the frontrunner in the race to fill Portman’s seat, but with Trump’s incredibly strong support and his history of winning in the state, it’s safe to say that if he chooses to endorse one of the aforementioned candidates, a win is all but guaranteed.