Allahpundit posted the winners and losers from yesterday’s primaries last night, but some depressed folks in the mainstream media immediately began ruminating on what they clearly viewed as an alarming trend. Perhaps the biggest winner, particularly in Ohio, was someone whose name wasn’t even on the ballot. Donald Trump’s endorsed candidates ran roughshod over the competition in a sign that his influence in the GOP is far from fading. The Associated Press called it a case of Trump “passing the test as a kingmaker.”
The primary elections in Ohio and Indiana on Tuesday stood as the first real test of former President Donald Trump’s status as the Republican Party kingmaker — and he passed.
Trump’s chosen candidate, “Hillbilly Elegy” author and one-time investment banker JD Vance, won the crowded Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio, giving Trump a strong beginning to primary season.
Vance, former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, businessman Mike Gibbons and former state GOP chair Jane Timken all vied for Trump’s endorsement, increasingly adopting language that mirrored the former president’s bombastic, populist style. In the end, Trump went with Vance, who in 2016 said the celebrity businessman could become “America’s Hitler” but has since become an avid supporter.
Trump didn’t poke his nose into the primary race for Governor in Ohio, likely because he knew that Mike DeWine was unbeatable, despite having criticized Trump in the past. DeWine cruised to victory easily.
Another interesting note from the Senate race was an indication that Donald Trump doesn’t always make every confrontation into an eternal blood feud. Keep in mind that it wasn’t all that long ago when people were asking “who the heck is JD Vance?” Vance, an author, had been lagging in the polls until quite recently. And he had previously made public statements comparing Donald Trump to Hitler. If you’ve followed the conventional media narrative, you might believe that one slight against Donald Trump would put you permanently on his list of enemies. But Vance obviously saw the power that Trump retains in Ohio (he won the state easily in both 2016 and 2020) so he began adopting Trump’s positions and praising his term in office.
Donald Trump was able to look past Vance’s earlier slights and granted him the endorsement. That was all it took, and Vance moved from being a trailing longshot to the leader in the polls in only a couple of weeks. The primary vote wasn’t a total washout, but Vance was able to win by a comfortable margin and a recount won’t be required.
Ironically, there are already some Democrats who are viewing the Ohio results as potentially being a positive for them in November and the reporting I saw this morning on CNN seems to bear that out. The reality of today’s political landscape is that Democrats have virtually nothing positive to talk about going into the midterms. The Biden presidency has been a disaster for them and many of their signature agenda items are broadly dismissed by the voters. But the one thing they can still share in common is their loathing of Donald Trump. Trump isn’t just “unpopular” on the left. He is reviled. Every breath he exhales is like poison to Democrats.
If the left can find a way to make the midterm races into another referendum on Trump, some of them believe that will energize their disillusioned base into turning out in November and voting against Trump-endorsed candidates rather than for their own flailing incumbents and challengers. I’ve frequently opined here that Donald Trump may have been the only Republican who could have salvaged Joe Biden’s presidential bid. Nobody on the left was excited about the prospects of a Biden presidency and they had clearly and loudly rejected the idea of Kamala Harris holding national office in the Democrats’ 2020 primary. But they were willing to show up in significant numbers to vote against Trump. I somehow doubt that will be enough to salvage their hopes this November, but at least for the moment that seems to be the only peg they can hang their collective hats on.