Primary takeaways: Trump passes the Ohio test to be a kingmaker

Tuesday's primary elections in Ohio, Indiana and other states were the first real test of Trump's status as Republican Party kingmaker. He passed.

Primary takeaways: Trump passes the Ohio test to be a kingmaker

Tuesday's primary elections in Ohio, Indiana and other states were the first real test of Trump's status as Republican Party kingmaker. He passed.

Takeaways from races:


Trump's choice candidate, JD Vance (Hillbilly Elegy) author, was elected to the U.S. Senate. This gives Trump a strong start to his primary season.

Vance, Josh Mandel, Mike Gibbons, Jane Timken, and Mike Gibbons, the former State Treasurer, all vying for Trump's endorsement. They adopted increasingly populist language, which mirrored Trump's bombastic style. Trump voted for Vance. Trump said Vance in 2016 that he could be America's Hitler, but he has since become a loyal supporter.

Vance tried to win over the former president by repeating his criticism of immigrants, doubts about U.S. military intervention overseas (even in support of Ukraine) and lying about Trump's defeat in 2020. Vance, who was lagging in the polls three weeks before Trump's endorsement, made it the centerpiece of his closing pitch. He jumped ahead of his competitors.

Vance will be facing Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan during November's general elections as they vie for the seat currently held by retiring GOP Senator. Rob Portman. Trump won Ohio by 8 points in 2020. The state has moved to the right because of his influence. Vance, a traditional Republican who is not a Trump fan, would replace Portman in the Senate. This would further move the Senate in Trump's favor.


Ohio's Republican secretary-of-state Frank LaRose was able to withstand a primary challenge by John Adams. Adams denies that President Joe Biden won 2020 and ran as an open skeptic about modern voting systems.

However, Ohio's Republican Primary still shows Trump's influence on the party's base. An AP-NORC poll found that two-thirds (63%) of Republicans believed Biden was not legitimately reelected. However, as the primary approached, he started to echo Trump's talking points. He said there were problems elsewhere and praised his office's efforts to fight voter fraud.

Trump endorsed LaRose, a longtime supporter. The state of Ohio was not a battleground, and Trump won it easily. In the days following Trump's 2020 loss, the incumbent secretary-state never took a negative view of Trump.

Trump supported Kristina Karamo, an election conspiracy theorist in Michigan, a swing state where he claimed to have won in 2020. Last month, she won the GOP nomination as secretary of state. There are many other Trump-backed election denier candidates in the upcoming Republican primaries.


Trump and his populist supporters have shaken their party and pushed incumbents in Trump’s direction in many places. However, one weakness so far has been governor’s mansions.

Ohio was the best example. Trump criticized Republican Gov. Mike DeWine was criticized for his 2020 strict coronavirus policies, but DeWine won the primary. In the general election, he will be facing Nan Whaley (Democrat). Whaley, a former mayor of Dayton is the first woman to be nominated for the office of Ohio governor by a major party.

Ohio isn't the only state where a GOP governor can be well-positioned against a primary challenger. Idaho's Brad Little is able to raise a lot of money against his conservative opponent, the Lt. Governor. Janice McGeachin. Governor Georgia Brian Kemp is the favorite against David Perdue (ex-Senator in Georgia), who Trump used to target Kemp for his lies about the election and for certifying Biden’s victory in the state.

Their incumbency, the variety of popular conservative policies that they can announce and federal relief from the coronavirus have all helped governors. DeWine was able, for instance, to outraise his foes by millions and benefitted from the announcement of Intel that it would invest $20 million in the state.

Another boost for DeWine was the fact that his opposition was split between Jim Renacci, a former U.S. Rep., and Joe Blystone, a farmer. Trump did not endorse the race.


Former state senator Nina Turner was defeated by Shontel Brown, Democratic Rep. in Cleveland.

Turner was the co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. She lost to Brown in last years special election for the seat. This happened after Marcia Fudge, its previous occupant, was elected secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Turner ran again in the hope that the district would be more open to her approach, after it was redrawn with more Democratic areas.

There is no such luck. Brown's win was a reminder of the left's poor track record in Democratic primaries. There have been a few notable wins, like that of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in New York City. But, there has been a lot of losses. While Trump may have made some changes in Republican primaries, Democratic primaries still tend to favor the same establishment that has ruled the party for decades.


Despite rising conservatism, the power of incumbency was demonstrated in Indiana's legislative races.

Two dozen activists were outraged by state coronavirus restrictions and organized to challenge GOP primary lawmakers they considered too supportive of the Republican governor. Eric Holcomb's public-health measures. On Tuesday night, the picture was mixed with many of these races not being called.

However, the challengers kept failing to take on incumbent legislators. A primary incumbent, who was too close to the party establishment, lost his primary. However, a incumbent who supported liberty candidates also lost his primary. The liberty candidates failed in at least 10 races.

It is a reminder of the fact that even in Trump's GOP conservative insurgents are not always able to defeat incumbents.