As soon as it became clear last week that a Texas congressional candidate backed by Donald Trump would be defeated in a special election, the former president’s allies quickly shifted their attention to Ohio to ward off another embarrassing loss.
Make America Great Again, a super-PAC headed by Trump’s former campaign manager purchased quietly $300,000. in Ohio television advertising. This purchase was made to give a boost to a Trump-backed candidate who faced a strong field of Republicans in Tuesday’s special election.
The midsummer race in Ohio’s traditionally Republican 15th Congressional District would not normally get much national attention. It’s now a test of Trump’s endorsement power that he uses to silence any opposition within the GOP.
Trump’s strength is not measured by low-turnout special elections. He remains a strong force in GOP politics. Trump revealed over the weekend that his political actions committees have a huge $100 million cash pile. Trump’s self-proclaimed kingmaker status could be eroded if he loses another election in the next two weeks.
Ryan Stubenrauch, an Ohio Republican consultant, stated that if it happens several times candidates and political professionals — who are not stupid — they will say you can win the race even if Trump is not supporting you.
Trump’s decision not to support candidates with baggage, which includes several who are running against GOP incumbents, has caused him to be at odds with other party leaders. Some Republicans worry that Trump’s moves will hinder efforts to win back the House and Senate majorities next year.
Trump has endorsed Mike Carey in Ohio. Carey is a coal lobbyist and one of 10 Republicans trying to replace Steve Stivers (former GOP Rep.), who retired earlier this year. He is facing a formidable team, which includes three state senators. Bob Peterson, Stephanie Kunze, and Jeff LaRe are also candidates. Ron Hood, a former state rep., is also a candidate.
Stivers has supported LaRe for the past ten years. Hood has received generous support from U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s political-action committee and religious conservative Ruth Edmonds (a former Columbus NAACP president).
Carey spoke out about the pitch he made Trump earlier this year, when they met for what he believed would be a photo-op.
Carey said that he said to Carey, “Listen, Mr. president, you’ve supported many political candidates over your lifetime and many of them let down you.” After about an hour and twenty minutes, Carey said that he was all in. “I’m going to support you and do everything necessary to get you to the finish line.
Trump, who was the headliner at a June rally with Carey, renewed his endorsement last week. He decried candidates who used his likeness in ads or cited him to win voters. I don’t know their names and don’t even know where they live. Trump stated that he does know Mike Carey, but that he is not his real name. “Let it be clear that I have Endorsed!”
Ohio’s 15th Congressional District has about 560,000 registered voters. The district leans Republican. Half of the district’s voters reside in Franklin and Fairfield counties. These are primarily suburban Columbus neighborhoods that Republicans have been able to count on for generations, but where Trump lost his support in 2020. Trump’s 2016 performance in the district was better than his 2016.
It can be difficult to draw solid conclusions from two low-turnout special election, especially in Ohio where there are many candidates who could split the vote in surprising ways.
Trump is a man who places great value on his endorsements, and often boasts about his win record. Trump’s formal backing is highly sought-after, with many candidates making pilgrimages to his homes in Florida or New Jersey to gain his support.
Advisors have advised Trump to be more careful in his choices and to avoid entering races that do not have a clear front-runner. This would help him to keep his reputation. Many expect Trump to be less likely to participate in crowded primaries moving forward.
Trump had supported Susan Wright in Texas. Wright was the widow of Republican Rep. Ron Wright who died in February from COVID-19. Trump made multiple statements praising his “Complete & Total Endorsement.” He also recorded a robocall in the final round of the race and the Make America Great Again super-PAC purchased a $100,000 ad.
She lost to Jake Ellzey, a fellow Republican who tried to overcome Trump’s snubs by raising more money, highlighting his supporters and Rick Perry, an ex-Texas governor who was also Trump’s energy secretary.
Trump insists that the loss was actually a win and tells Axios that there were two good people running for office, both Republicans. That was the victory.
Other cases involve members of the party who fear Trump may cause damage by backing candidates that do well in Republican primaries. These are where Trump supporters dominate but have difficulty winning general elections.
Trump has, for example, encouraged Herschel Walker, the football legend, to run for the Senate of Georgia. This despite his significant baggage. A recent Associated Press review of hundreds of pages of public records tied to Walker’s business ventures and his divorce found accusations that Walker repeatedly threatened his ex-wife’s life, exaggerated claims of financial success and alarmed business associates with unpredictable behavior.
Max Miller is a former Trump White House campaign aide and is now challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez. Gonzalez is an Ohio Republican who voted to impeach Trump. Gonzalez has raised Miller significantly, while a Politico investigation revealed that Miller has a history of speeding, drinking underage and disorderly conduct.
Trump also met with candidates seeking to unseat Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who has become a prominent Trump critic. Kelly Tshibaka, the former president, supported her bid to unseat Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski is a Republican who voted for Trump’s impeachment trial conviction and who will be up for reelection next year.
It is not clear if Trump’s loyalty to them will be transferred to the candidates he supports. Nearly everyone who attended the Grove City Patriots meeting, a new Republican club in Columbus that heard from three candidates on Tuesday, was a Trump supporter. However, few people said that they care about Trump’s endorsement.
Tim Ruzicka stated that he and Julie, his wife, co-founded the group but that their choice would not be affected by his backing. “For this, no. Everyone should stand on their own merit. He said, “May the best candidate win.”
Julie Ruzicka agreed with her husband, saying that she would study the candidates for the weekend before casting her ballot.
She said, “I’m completely Trump all the time, but that’sn’t necessarily who I will choose.” “Trump has chosen to be bad people in the past, which is not his fault. But they can flip once they get there. So I have to dig deeper.”
Mike Murray, an 80 year-old retired man, said that Trump’s endorsement does not mean as much to him than he would like.
He said, “I mean, he’s a good guy, but I don’t listen to endorsements from other people all the time.” “I pick my own, because most of them say, oh, “I’m going for you,” but what does that actually mean? While I like Trump, I have my own thoughts.”