Protected becomes choice
Trump wins showdown in Ohio
The preliminary decision for Congressional elections in Ohio this year is also a test: against the express wishes of the party leadership, former US President Trump throws his political weight into the ring – and carries a candidate to victory who had previously strongly criticized Trump.
Former US President Donald Trump cemented his status as his Republican Party’s kingmaker with a primary victory for bestselling author JD Vance, whom he endorsed. According to US media, Vance won an internal party primary for the Conservatives in the state of Ohio by a clear margin on Tuesday. The author of the film adaptation of the best-selling book “Hillbilly Elegy” will be the Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Washington in November’s midterm elections.
The CNN news channel saw the 37-year-old at around 32% after tallying almost all the votes. His toughest rival, Josh Mandel, got 24%. Vance has long trailed Mandel, who has influential and well-funded supporters in the conservative camp, in the polls. The tide turned when Trump voiced his support for her during the party’s internal election campaign in mid-April. Previously, Republican leaders in Ohio had asked him to remain neutral. That didn’t stop Trump from making a recommendation, and Vance then passed Mandel in the polls and has now won the primary.
The author and financial investor has been an outspoken opponent of Trump in the past. Prior to the 2016 presidential election, which Trump surprisingly won, he even described the right-wing populist as an “idiot” he “never liked”. When Vance entered the Republican primary in his home state of Ohio last year, he distanced himself from his previous statements and emerged as a staunch Trump supporter with a politics of extreme right.
Great success for Trump
The outcome of the primary is an important symbolic success for Trump. Vance’s victory shows just how popular the ex-president remains with the conservative base — and how much weight his support for individual candidates carries. The 75-year-old therefore has great power over the Republicans, even if he is by no means unchallenged in his own ranks.
Large parts of the Republican Party had distanced themselves from the then-president after radical Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol in January 2021. In the weeks and months that followed, however, the president who had been eliminated was able to reassert his control over the party. Trump has repeatedly hinted at a possible rerun of the 2024 presidential election.
But first, the midterm legislative elections in November, in which the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate will be re-elected. Vance will next fight Democrat Tim Ryan for a vacant Senate seat.
Ryan won Tuesday’s Ohio presidential primary for President Joe Biden. Democrats must fear losing their majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives in the midterm elections.