• Veritium Political Insights

Why Ohio Democrats must back Matt Dolan—The Case for Tactical Primary Crossover Voting

Republicans have shown they are not afraid to play dirty in order to advance and consolidate their power in American Government. From the Merrick Garland affair in 2016 to Republicans in Wisconsin and North Carolina’s state legislatures stripping Tony Evers and Roy Cooper of their power during lame-duck sessions to Ron Desantis’ surgical gerrymander of Florida’s Congressional Maps passed just this week, Republicans cannot be trusted to unilaterally disarm. It is time for Democrats to work within the rules to push back.

21 states host open primaries in congressional and state-level elections, including Ohio. Even registered Democrats can show up at their polling site on May 3rd, the day of the 2022 Ohio Primary election, and will have the choice to vote in a Republican Primary.

The public believes Ohio’s Senate Seat is very likely to be won by a Republican this November. Ohio has slowly moved right relative to the nation as a whole; In 2020, Donald Trump overperformed his national result by 12% in Ohio. Of course, just four years ago in 2018, Democrat Sherrod Brown won re-election to the Senate in Ohio. But this was a popular incumbent in a tremendous political environment for Democrats, who are likely to run 10-15% worse nationally in 2022. Considering all these factors in a mathematical model, we at Veritium Insights only give the eventual Democratic nominee a 6% chance to win the race.

Since the eventual Republican Senate Nominee is so likely to win the general election in November, Democrats must take advantage of Ohio’s open primary in order to have some say in Ohio’s eventual Senator. Democrats do not realize how much trouble they are in when it comes to the Senate; Republicans have a significant chance to win a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate after the 2024 elections, a scenario that my good friend Simon Bazelon outlined in his SlowBoring article. If Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis does win the 2024 Presidential Election, it will be with much more radical and commanding majorities than in 2016. Responsible Republican Senators who held President Trump accountable and blocked portions of his harmful agenda—such as John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Richard Burr (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Bob Corker (R-TN)—have retired. The caucus is now even moreso composed of Trump loyalists who built their careers off enabling him. Democrats must be realistic and prepare for this nightmare, taking every possible opportunity to ensure this caucus is as responsible as possible.

Currently, the Ohio GOP Senate Primary is led by JD Vance and Josh Mandel. Trump endorsed Vance, a Peter Thiel-funded Wall Street Executive who admitted, “I don't really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another” after the conflict’s outbreak. Vance bent over backward for Trump’s endorsement, even visiting Mar-a-Lago with Thiel to beg for his backing. This is a shocking reversal for Vance, who even floated the idea that Trump could be “America’s Hitler” in 2016. Former Treasurer Josh Mandel has consistently led polling and holds even more extremist policy views than Vance. Mandel adopted Donald Trump’s tactics long before Trump began his political career, falsely suggesting his opponent in the 2010 Ohio State Treasurer race was Muslim in a campaign ad. Mandel has also voiced opposition to religious freedom on Twitter and unironically opposes the US Federal Reserve System. Both Vance and Mandel have said they believe the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen, although Vance only embraced this claim well into the campaign after he struggled in polling at the start.

Matt Dolan is a Republican State Senator from Cuyahoga County. While his four rivals have gone to extreme lengths to win former President Trump’s backing, Dolan has completely scorned his endorsement. He’s the only Republican Senate candidate who admits President Biden fairly won the 2020 election and says Republicans must turn their focus back to policy. He will govern responsibly and prevent further erosion of democracy from Americans. With Republicans Mike Gibbons and Jane Timken also enjoying substantial amounts of voters, the election is exceptionally competitive, and Dolan could potentially win with a coalition of anti-Trump conservatives and crossover support.

Dolan is a staunch conservative who holds views far to the right of the Democratic Party. Of course, Democrats should not back him in a potential general election against the eventual Democratic nominee. And just because Democrats have an outside chance of winning this November, it does not mean Democrats should feel less of a need to turn out—we need every advantage we can get to prevent catastrophe. But for now, instead of wasting your vote on Tim Ryan or Morgan Harper, who are competing in a completely uncompetitive Democratic Primary that Ryan is nearly sure to win, use your vote to back Dolan instead this May 3rd.

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