Trump-backed J.D. Vance came back from the dead, having been in the single digits late last year, only to “earn” Trump’s endorsement, and win the Republican primary last night over Josh Mandel, another Trump acolyte, by eight points, at 32% of the vote to Mandel’s 23.9%. Curiously, the “traditional” Republican candidate, the anti-Trump Matt Dolan – who insisted the 2020 presidential election was not stolen and would not seek Trump’s endorsement, ended up with 23.3% of the vote, a virtual tie with Mandel. Thus, one-third of Onio’s Republican voters chose the Trumpiest, edgiest, most anti-McConnell candidate on the ticket. But one-quarter of Ohio Republican primary voters, the voters tending to be the most politically active, chose the anti-Trump candidate.
Democratic winner Tim Ryan, who has always been a centrist, already took the advantage of an appearance on the Morning Joe to say he plans on going directly at the Dolan voters. If he can pick off even half of those Republicans, it would likely be enough to put a Democrat in Republican Rob Portman’s old Senate seat. McConnell has feared this day and about six more like it for two years. To say that JD Vance is “anti-establishment” is like saying dogs are pro hamburger. It is almost beyond mention.
According to Axios:
In December — months before Trump endorsed Vance — a source close to GOP Senate leadership told Axios that of all the Ohio Senate candidates, Vance caused the biggest headaches, but the good news was he wouldn’t win.
The senior GOP official said he took solace in the knowledge that the Club for Growth’s anti-Vance campaign — millions of dollars of TV ads pounding Vance for his past negative comments about Trump — killed off any hope of him winning.
Nothing says “establishment Washington Republican” more than the Club for Growth, and the establishment couldn’t kill off JD Vance. Donald Trump remains firmly in charge of the Republican party and McConnell is much smaller today than yesterday. The man Trump calls “Old Crow” now has two worries.
One, McConnell has to worry whether JD Vance can win Ohio with the candidate that is most associated with Matt Gaetz, Don Jr., Marjorie Taylor-Greene, and Ohio’s own Jim Jordan. This is a state that routinely sends the very liberal Sherrod Brown to Washington. But McConnell also has to worry about whether Vance would even support McConnell for majority leader even if the seat says in Republican hands. The Supreme Court could be triggering a blue wave if they follow through with their draft opinion.The MAGAs do not consider McConnell to be “one of them” and thus, each time a Trump-endorsee wins, McConnell feels a bit more power slip away.
There is nothing new to the dynamic but there is most certainly new evidence as to Trump’s influence and that extremism will at least win a plurality. Whether it will win a majority is an entirely different matter. McConnell has understood the dynamic for two years and his nightmare appears to be coming true. Trump could, again, grab defeat from victory, just as he did in Georgia in 2020.
Jason Miciak believes a day without learning is a day not lived. He is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is a Canadian-born dual citizen who spent his teen and college years in the Pacific Northwest and has since lived in seven states. He now enjoys life as a single dad of a young girl, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast. He loves crafting his flower pots, cooking, while also studying scientific philosophy, religion, and non-math principles behind quantum mechanics and cosmology. Please feel free to contact for speaking engagements or any concerns.