May 3rd Ohio and Indiana Republican Primary Preview
Ohio Republican Senate Primary
The Senate primary is certainly the biggest event of the night and has been one of the most chaotic races in the nation in 2022. The winner will be a heavy favorite over likely Democratic nominee Tim Ryan to win the retiring Rob Portman’s (R) Senate Seat this November. Five candidates have dominated the race thus far, meaning that the winner possibly could not even earn 35% of the vote. Author JD Vance won the highly coveted endorsement of Donald Trump and is now the odds on favorite out of the five. Vance also boasts endorsements from far-right Republicans Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Trump’s endorsement of the Hillbilly Elegy author has earned criticism from many wings of the Republican Party. His adversaries focus on his anti-Trump past and close relationship with Wall Street, shining doubt on whether he will be an effective “America First” Senator. Vance said Trump could be “America’s Hitler” in 2016 but has since softened his stance on the former president. Former State Treasurer Josh Mandel is, if anything, an even more radical candidate. Mandel has embraced a form of radical conservative populism. He has constantly touted crypto-currency, publicly expressed disdain for the “separation of church and state,” and called Black Lives Matter activists “thugs.” He boasts endorsements from Michael Flynn and Ted Cruz (R-TX) and has consistently polled above the rest of the field before Trump’s Vance endorsement. An investment banker and strong fiscal conservative, Mike Gibbons, gained some traction in early 2022. Gibbons has since lost support to Mandel and Vance but still boasts an endorsement from Rand Paul (R-KY). Jane Timken and Matt Dolan are the most traditional Republican candidates in the race. Dolan has scorned Trump’s 2020 election complaints and focused on policy throughout his campaign while various members of the Ohio political establishment back Timken. Although neither are expected to compete for the nomination seriously, Timken is endorsed by Senator Portman and Dolan has reportedly been rising in support recently.
Race Rating: Tilt Vance
Ohio Republican Governor Primary
Incumbent Governor Mike DeWine (R) faces two serious, well-funded challenges from the right in Jim Renacci and Joe Blystone. Renacci, a former four-term congressman from Medina County, threatens DeWine the most. He disappointed national Republicans in the 2018 US Senate Election, losing to Sherrod Brown (D) by roughly 6%. Blystone is a previous political outsider who currently works as a farmer in Central Ohio, also running well to Dewine’s right. Renacci and Blystone especially criticize DeWine’s COVID-19 policies, specifically his early 2020 lockdown and embrace of masks and vaccines. Renacci has called DeWine “a Republican who acts like a Democrat” and referred to him as “Ohio’s Cuomo.” DeWine has embraced previous Ohio Governor John Kasich’s strategy, running on his record as a “compassionate conservative.” While former President Donald Trump (R) has not publicly weighed in on the primary, Renacci and Blystone have embraced his rhetoric and ran as the “America First” candidates. Although DeWine has serious problems with support among the Republican base, several factors strengthen his chances to win the nomination. First, Ohio has open primaries, and DeWine expects emphatic support from political independents and moderate Romney-Biden Democrats. Second, Renacci and Blystone will split the anti-Dewine vote, which could help propel DeWine to re-election since Ohio does not require run-offs to determine the winner of the primary.
Race Rating: Likely DeWine
OH-07 Republican Primary
After OH-07 Incumbent Bob Gibbs (R) and neighboring OH-06 Representative Anthony Gonzales (R) both retired, OH-07 was left open. Former Trump Aide Max Miller (R) is a heavy favorite to win the Republican nomination in this red district. He faces no other serious or well-funded challengers, and should easily win a majority of the vote on May 3rd. Based in suburban Cleveland, this district could potentially be an outside pickup opportunity for Democrats in 2018-level blue waves.
Race Rating: Solid Miller
OH-09 Republican Primary
Although Democrat Marcy Kaptur has represented Toledo for nearly 40 years, Republicans are favored to unseat her this fall in a new red district. After 2012, Kaptur represented a Democratic vote-sink district stretching from Toledo to Cleveland. Now, Kaptur lost all of her territory in Lorain and Cuyahoga Counties and gained red turf in northwest Ohio. Three Republicans lead the race to capture an opportunity to win Kaptur’s seat: State Senator Theresa Gavarone, Air Force Veteran J.R. Majewski, and State Representative Craig Reidel. While Reidel is thought to be favored over his two competitors, all three candidates have had decent fundraising success and should break 20% of the vote. Notably, Reidel is a relatively far-right candidate; he has expressed interest in working with those in the Freedom Caucus and received an endorsement from Jim Jordan.
Race Rating: Tilt Reidel
OH-13 Republican Primary
Trump-endorsed Madison Gesiotto is favored over the field in OH-13, despite the solid fund-raising strength of serious challengers Shay Hawkins and Gregory Wheeler. Hawkins formerly served as an aid to Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and holds his endorsement. Since OH-13 is a tossup suburban district, the winner of this primary is not sure to win future general elections, but will be favored in 2022. If Gesiotto does not easily win, this could be a sign of Trump’s waning influence on the GOP.
Race Rating: Likely Gesiotto
IN-01 Republican Primary
Although Democratic Incumbent Frank Mrvan will be favored to win re-election this November, Republicans should not rule out toppling the longtime incumbent in the rapidly right-trending IN-01. Air Force Veteran Jennifer-Ruth Green and former Laporte Mayor Blair Milo are the front-runners for the Republican nomination. Milo has served as an Eric Holcomb appointee at the Sagamore Institute since 2017 and recently Green has attacked her for not being a “real” conservative. But Milo’s Indiana political connections could prove to be difficult to defeat even as Green tries to outflank her on the right.
Race Rating: Lean Green
IN-09 Republican Primary Trey Hollingsworth’s retirement leaves IN-09 as an open deep-red district in Southeast Indiana. There are three distinct front-runners in this primary: Former Representative Mike Sodrel, Indiana State Senator Erin Houchin, and Army Veteran Stu-Barnes Israel. While Sodrel leads in fundraising and Israel won an endorsement from Senator Tom Cotton, Houchin is widely considered to be the favorite for this seat. Donald Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate in this race.
Race Rating: Tilt Houchin