When Senator Rob Portman of Ohio announced that he would forgo seeking reelection, he created a free-for-all in the race to replace him. What is seen by many pundits as a likely Republican seat, Ohio’s next senator will likely be determined in the Republican Primary.
Portman, who is one of the most liberal Republicans in the US Senate, has served as Ohio’s lone Republican senator since 2011.
The Ohio Senate Republican primary is possibly one of the most contested and heated primaries in the country with a battle between multiple different factions of the Republican Party. In fact, the race has gotten so heated that a fight nearly broke out between previous frontrunners Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons.
The current Republican candidates include State Senator Matt Dolan, Former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, Former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken, Businessman Mike Gibbons, and Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance.
Throughout the race, the frontrunner has shifted and changed. Early polls showed the race between Timken–who is endorsed by Kellyanne Conway and Senator Portman–and Mandel–who is endorsed by Senator Ted Cruz and Michael Flynn.
However, the Timken Campaign’s energy and lead have seemingly fizzled out as she now polls last amongst the serious candidates with roughly 7%.
Up until recently, the race has been a tossup between Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons. Gibbons–who is endorsed by Senator Rand Paul–has garnered controversy by stating that middle-class Americans don’t pay “any kind of fair share” of income taxes. To note, the Gibbons campaign has stated that “Mike Gibbons does not support tax increases on any American — and never has.”
President Trump recently shook up the already volatile primary by endorsing J.D. Vance. Trump described Vance as the “most qualified and ready to win in November” and as the “most likely to take out the weak, but dangerous, Democratic opponent.”
Vance garnered controversy from Republicans for his past opposition to President Trump. In a now-deleted tweet, Vance stated that “Trump makes people I care about afraid. Immigrants, Muslims, etc. Because of this, I find him reprehensible. God wants better for us.”
Vance also deleted a tweet saying he found Trump reprehensible from October 2016. pic.twitter.com/sTYhOpMnPG
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) July 1, 2021
Trump defended Vance by stating “Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not-so-great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades.”
Since Trump’s endorsement, Vance has shot up in the polls and is now the frontrunner. Recent polling shows that Vance now leads the field with 23%. Mandel has 18%, Gibbons has 13%, Dolan has 11%, and Timken has 6%. 33% are undecided.
The Democratic candidates are Congressman Tim Ryan and former Senior Advisor at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Morgan Harper. Ryan is seen as the likely nominee and is polling at 43% of Democratic primary voters.