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Why campaign watchers are keeping an eye on Ohio, Indiana today

There’s no shortage of contests for campaign watchers to keep an eye on, but here are a handful of the races I’ll be watching tonight.


As if there weren’t enough going on in the political world, voters in two sizable states will decide the outcome of some closely watched primary elections today. Roll Call reported:

A series of weekly congressional primaries in May starts Tuesday in Ohio and Indiana, and the outcomes over the coming weeks will help settle or add fuel to the debate over how influential a kingmaker former President Donald Trump is. They’ll also settle the matchups for races in the fall that will decide control of the House and Senate, even though in some cases — Ohio’s especially — district maps are the subject of ongoing court battles.

There’s no shortage of contests for campaign watchers to keep an eye on, but here are a handful of the races I’ll be watching tonight:

Ohio’s Republican Senate primary: Today’s marquee fight is the GOP contest in the Buckeye State, where first-time candidate J.D. Vance appears to be leading a crowded pack, buoyed by Trump’s endorsement. That said, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel has been a top contender for months, and state Sen. Matt Dolan appears to be gaining some 11th-hour momentum. Former state GOP Chair Jane Timken has retiring Sen. Rob Portman’s endorsement, though it doesn’t appear to matter.

Ohio’s Democratic congressional primary in the 11th District: This is a rematch of last year’s special election, in which Rep. Shontel Brown won a modest victory over former state Sen. Nina Turner. Now, the two will face off again, with a similar intra-party dynamic at play: The incumbent congresswoman has the support of party leaders, including President Joe Biden, while Turner is backed by prominent progressive voices such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Ohio’s Republican gubernatorial primary: Gov. Mike DeWine has lost some support from his party’s far-right base, but his challenger, former Rep. Jim Renacci never got the Trump endorsement he was counting on. Also in the mix is farmer Joe Blystone, who’s pushing an even-further-to-the-right message.

Ohio’s Democratic gubernatorial primary: Two former mayors, John Cranley and Nan Whaley, are vying for their party’s nomination in a state that has only voted for Democratic gubernatorial candidates twice in the last four decades. Whaley, incidentally, would also be the first woman elected as Ohio’s governor.

Indiana’s Republican congressional primary in the 9th District: Rep. Trey Hollingsworth is retiring, and a big field of GOP contenders is vying to succeed him. Among the Republicans is former Rep. Mike Sodrel, launching a comeback bid more than a decade after ending his brief career on Capitol Hill.

Ohio’s Democratic Senate primary: Rep. Tim Ryan is generally seen as the likely nominee, but he’ll first have to get past Morgan Harper, a former senior adviser at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who’s running a more unapologetically progressive race, even as Ryan focuses more on the general election.

Ohio’s Republican congressional primary in the 9th District: With the GOP-led state legislature redrawing district lines in order to defeat Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a crowded field of Republicans hope to run against her. Much of the party establishment has rallied behind state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, but she’ll have to get past far-right state Rep. Craig Riedel, who has Rep. Jim Jordan’s backing, and Air Force veteran J.R. Majewski, who is perhaps best known for being on hand for an anti-election protest on Jan. 6 and associating with QAnon adherents.

Indiana’s Republican congressional primary in the 1st District: A relatively crowded GOP field wants to take on first-term Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan, though the top contenders appear to be former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo and Jennifer-Ruth Green. A FiveThirtyEight report noted, “Trumpism has played more of a role in this race. Green, for instance, has aired negative ads against Milo for being ‘never Trump’ in 2016, while Milo has attacked Green for voting in the Democratic primary in 2018.”

Watch this space.