- Jun 3, 2021
- Reaction score
- 🇦🇹 Austria 🇦🇹
- Political Leaning
Donald Trump has a lot on the line in suburbs and small towns south of Columbus, Ohio.
After the Trump-backed candidate in Texas' 6th Congressional district runoff election lost this week, the pressure is now on the former President to prove his endorsement -- one of his most powerful tools within the Republican Party -- still holds significant sway in GOP primaries.
Trump endorsed coal lobbyist Mike Carey in the special election for Ohio's 15th Congressional District in early June, throwing his weight behind a political novice in a race against a host of other Republicans, including multiple local elected officials. The Republican primary to replace former Rep. Steve Stivers, who left Congress earlier this year to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, is Tuesday.
It's a crowded race, with close to a dozen Republicans still vying for the congressional seat. This has led multiple Republican operatives, both in Ohio and nationally, to speculate that it is eminently possible for Trump's candidate to lose the primary -- and to acknowledge that yet another loss for Trump would dent his standing as a Republican kingmaker. It also could be personally frustrating for Trump, a politician who routinely bragged as President about the strong win percentage of the Republicans he backed in primaries.
"These specials are volatile," said a senior Republican strategist who has worked on House races. "People don't know these guys as well. There are not the massive amounts of attention. ... They need to make sure their message actually breaks through. And that's hard to do."
On the ground, both Republican operatives unaligned with a candidate as well as those working for a campaign acknowledge that while Trump's endorsement is powerful, it is diluted by the size of the field, the fact that candidates have had roughly only three months to campaign and the reality that nearly all candidates in the race are tying themselves to Trump's message.
"Obviously, the Trump endorsement is a big boost for Carey," said a top strategist for Ruth Edmonds, a Black Republican who is running as a candidate in line with Trump. "But it is not as big of a factor, as you are already seeing with what happened in Texas the other day, and there are just so many candidates in this race."
The strategist also noted that most voters just aren't engaged in the election, with the Edmonds campaign expecting roughly 40,000 people to vote in the primary. In the 2020 general election, there were more than 380,000 votes cast in the district's House race.
"We are looking at a race with very, very low turnout," the strategist said. "So, is the Trump endorsement important? Obviously. But it is not the end of the world, especially in a race like this."
Jeff LaRe, a member of the Ohio House of Representatives running in the primary, acknowledged as much in a statement to CNN.