It really is quite remarkable. On Easter weekend, former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel held a comfortable five-point lead in the crowded Ohio GOP Senate primary field over Hillbilly Elegy author and entrepreneur J.D. Vance. Mandel had more money and more endorsements from GOP heavy hitters in Ohio. It appeared he was coasting to victory.
Then Donald Trump happened.
There has been no clearer indication of Donald Trump’s sway in the Republican Party than J.D.Vance’s comfortable eight-point victory in a race that was transformed by the former president’s endorsement.
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Trump insiders say that the margin of victory in Ohio will embolden the former president and encourage him to get involved in other, tougher races.
“The greater the margin of victory for J.D. Vance, the higher the likelihood that Donald Trump endorses Blake Masters in Arizona,” a Republican associate of Trump’s who has spoken to the former president about his endorsement, said on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. “Vance’s win proves the concept that he can take someone from third or fourth place and pull them into the lead in a crowded primary.”
Trump recently joined a fundraising call for Masters, a sign of his interest.
So far, Trump-endorsed candidates are 55-0 this cycle, advisers said. They note that his first endorsed candidate this cycle, Max Miller, won his congressional primary Tuesday in Ohio as Vance carried the Senate nomination.
The Trump team is fully aware that the magic won’t work everywhere. But in those districts and states where Trump is still popular, his support will make a difference. He is a cash machine for these candidates as well as a huge draw on the campaign trail.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan chose election day to urge Republicans to “move on” from Trump or risk losing the 2024 election. He said in a speech at the Reagan Library, “We won’t win back the White House by nominating Donald Trump or a cheap impersonation of him.”