Trump has 22 endorsements on the line across both states on Tuesday, some in competitive races and others in not-so-competitive primaries. The biggest banner race of the night is the five-way GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio, where Trump has endorsed author J.D. Vance–a hardcore nationalist populist–against four other candidates, three of whom sought Trump’s backing and one of whom did not. Those other candidates–Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel, Jane Timken, and Matt Dolan–all represent different views on the future of the GOP than Trump in varying degrees, but Dolan in particular represents a major departure from Trump’s view for the party. That’s why it was particularly interesting on Tuesday morning to see Dolan’s wife and some top national leftists like Daily Kos urging Ohio Democrats to pull GOP ballots and vote for Dolan in the primary on Tuesday.
Success for Vance would spell good news for Trump-endorsed candidates in other upcoming primaries, such as those in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and elsewhere, where some have struggled and some have prospered. That’s because Vance shot to the front of the pack in the final weeks of the race in polling after Trump backed him, despite an all-out effort against him from some in the donor class and establishment. Whoever wins the GOP nomination for Senate in Ohio will likely face Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) in the general election, a tougher-than-it-looks race given Ryan’s push to portray himself as tough on China.
Ohio’s Senate primary is hardly the only big race of the night. Several competitive congressional primaries in both Ohio and Indiana will also test Trump’s endorsement and offer insight into how the GOP’s future will look. What’s more, Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine aims to fend off two primary challengers–former Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Joe Blystone–something polling indicates he is likely to do. Seeing whether the polls are right and DeWine can seal the deal will also say a lot about the party– in different respects than Trump’s endorsement will, but also in an interesting way.