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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Tim Ryan, JD Vance secure Senate nominations in Ohio’s primary

The support of former President Donald Trump was enough to win J.D. Vance the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s Ohio primary election, while incumbent Republican Governor Mike DeWine also secured his party’s nomination for reelection.

CINCINNATI (CN) — The expensive and sometimes vitriolic campaign battle between Republican candidates for the seat of retiring Senator Rob Portman concluded Tuesday as Ohioans nominated Republican author J.D. Vance and Democratic U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan to square off in the November general election.

Ryan cruised to victory on the Democratic side of the race for the Senate, while the support of Trump seemed to be the final boost Vance needed to fend off several opponents.

Incumbent Republican Governor Mike DeWine also held off three challengers to secure his nomination for reelection less than an hour after polls closed.

The focus of Tuesday’s primary — which was split because of redistricting issues and did not include local elections — shifted early to the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, due in large part to the outspoken and aggressive personalities of several candidates, most notably J.D. Vance and Josh Mandel.

Businessman Mike Gibbons held a lead in early polling but was dragged into a war of words by Mandel, a former Marine who previously held the office of state treasurer and attacked Gibbons’ investment history.

It was only an hour and fifteen minutes after polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Eastern that noted election prognosticator and analyst Dave Wasserman called the race for Vance.

As of 9:15 p.m., Vance has accumulated 138,821 votes, good for 31% of the vote total, while Mandel is currently in second place with 108,784 votes, 24.65% of the total.

State Senator Matt Dolan and Gibbons are third and fourth, with 95,313 and 54,945 votes, respectively, good for 21.60% and 12.45% of the total.

All of the Republican candidates, including former Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken, angled for the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, and mimicked his brash style on the campaign trail.

Ultimately, Trump gave his support to writer and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, and it appears the late endorsement was enough to propel the Hillbilly Elegy author to the nomination.

Gibbons raised the most money of any candidate in the race, with a total of more than $17.7 million accounted for as of April 13, according to the Federal Election Commission.

An investment banker, Gibbons outpaced his Republican opponents by a wide margin, thanks in large part to an $11.4 million self-made donation to his campaign.

The GOP race also included businessmen Mark Pukita and Neil Patel.

On the other side of the Senate ballot, Tim Ryan raised more than $13.1 million, and had over $5.1 million in cash on hand per the latest update from the commission.

Ryan was opposed by two newcomers, Morgan Harper and Traci Johnson, but easily won the nomination on his platform of creating jobs and higher wages for middle-class Ohioans.

Harper, a former advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, garnered attention for her progressive platform that included the creation of 600,000 clean energy jobs and full student loan debt forgiveness.

Ad spends for the GOP primary across television and radio totaled more than $66 million, according to advertising firm Medium Buying, a number that easily eclipsed the previous Ohio record for a congressional election.

The governor’s office will be up for grabs in November, and Tuesday’s primary featured a slew of Republican contenders, though none of the outsiders could mount a challenge to incumbent Mike DeWine.

Joe Blystone, Jim Renacci and Ron Hood each ran an anti-DeWine campaign in their attempts to secure the Republican nomination, with Blystone and Renacci garnering the most attention.

DeWine was attacked by members of his own party and his trio of challengers for his response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which included various executive orders that shut down businesses and institutes mask requirements.

Blystone, a farmer and businessman who claimed during his campaign he “is not a politician,” was especially critical of DeWine, and said the government “has no right to come out and say, ‘You’ve got to close your business.’”

Renacci served for eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives but lost the 2018 U.S. Senate election to current Senator Sherrod Brown.

As of 8:30 p.m. Eastern, DeWine had amassed 79,218 votes, or 56.37% of the total, while Renacci was the closest competitor at 36,213 votes, 25.77% of the vote.

On the Democratic side of the ballot, former mayors John Cranley and Nan Whaley, of Cincinnati and Dayton respectively, squared off to secure the nomination for November’s general election.

Whaley scored a decisive victory and became the first female gubernatorial nominee from either major party in the state’s history.

As of 9:15 p.m., Whaley had amassed 152,359 votes, or 65.87% of the total, while Cranley had received 79,928 votes, or 34.13% of the vote.

The election process in Ohio has been under significant scrutiny over the past year, as the state’s bipartisan Redistricting Commission has been unable to draw an electoral map that meets constitutional requirements.

The Ohio Supreme Court rejected three versions of a map it found to unfairly favor Republican candidates, which required the state to split its primary and delay local elections to an unknown date later in the year.

Ohio uses an “open primary” system to select candidates, which allows voters to choose the Republican or Democratic ballot when they enter polling locations, regardless of their party affiliation.

Courthouse News traveled to several polling sites throughout the greater Cincinnati area and spoke with voters about which candidates got their support.

Lebanon resident Scott Reitz voted in the Republican primary, and backed J.D. Vance in the Senate race, even though he had reservations about his relationship with former president Trump.

“I did it in spite of his endorsement of Trump,” Reitz said. “I feel like he reversed himself and flip-flopped from his prior positions on Trump. He was almost a ‘never-Trumper,’ and then when it became politically convenient, he switched over to Trump.”

Despite his qualms over Vance’s opportunism regarding Trump, Reitz said he was better than the alternatives and has the best interests of working-class Ohioans at heart.

“I read his autobiography and know he’s local to Middletown, and I feel like he has the middle class of Ohio’s interests in mind, as opposed to some of the other candidates,” Reitz said.

Reitz said he voted for Blystone in the gubernatorial race and called DeWine a “Republican in name only” whose shutdown of Ohio during the Covid-19 pandemic was indicative of an “authoritarian streak.”

Elsewhere, in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati, Democrat Lynn Hailey was hopeful of Ryan’s chances both in the primary and general elections.

“Tim is a good guy,” she said, “and we're going to have a really strong candidate in the fall. He really does represent all Ohioans. He comes from a middle-class background and a blue-collar, working town, but he also understands that cities have needs. I think he’ll be a good balance.”

Hailey cast her vote in the governor’s race for Whaley and called her a “good character and straight shooter.”

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Categories / Politics, Regional

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