The 2022 primary season is finally heating up.
On Tuesday, May 3rd, voters will decide the Democratic and Republican nominees in Indiana and Ohio. Thus far, the only state to previously hold a primary was Texas, which didn’t feature an inter-party contest as contentious and consequential as the Ohio Senate GOP primary.
May 3rd is far from a one-election day, however, as several races will allow us to get a glimpse at the mood of both conservatives and progressives. On top of that, for the first time in two months we’ll get a sense of how the 2022 midterms are trending as we near November.
A final note before we dive in, the polls close throughout Indiana at 7:00 p.m. EST and 7:30 in Ohio. Therefore, expect an early night of results (unless I just jinxed it).
Ohio Senate: Republican Primary
Let’s not waste any time, and start right off with the main event.
Rob Portman’s retirement left Ohio Republicans with a crowded field seeking a Senate seat in an increasingly red state. At this late hour, former State Party Chair Jane Timken and cable scion Matt Dolan don’t appear to be major threats to pull off a victory.
Instead the contest is coming down to these three candidates: investment banker Mike Gibbons, former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, and author J.D. Vance.
Mandel, a controversial and inflammatory contender, has spent most of the race in the lead. Gibbons managed to momentarily displace him in late February and early March, only for Mandel to retake the advantage after their near-confrontation at a March 18th debate.
Vance scored a major coup, though, when he secured the support of former adversary Donald Trump. The Trump endorsement fueled an influx of cash (including millions from billionaire Peter Thiel) to a pro-Vance Super PAC. Perhaps as a result, the latest poll found Vance in front.
This contest kicks off a month of vital primaries for the former President. A victory or defeat here could resound down through the rest of May, and set the whole narrative of Trump’s strength among the GOP.
Ohio Governor: Democratic and Republican Primaries
As opposed to the Senate race, the Buckeye State’s gubernatorial GOP primary is considerably more low-key. While incumbent Mike DeWine earned Trump’s wrath when the Governor conceded that Joe Biden won the 2020 election, the two have seemingly reached some kind of accord. Despite the best efforts of challenger Jim Renacci, Trump has yet to get involved in the race, leaving DeWine with an easy path to renomination.
Over on the Democratic ballot, former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is battling former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley for the gubernatorial nomination.
Whaley won the backing of Senator Sherrod Brown, EMILY’s List and a number of labor unions. Cranley, on the other hand, scored the endorsement of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The last survey of the race, a University of Akron poll conducted in February and March, found Whaley with a 23% to 18% lead over Cranley.
Either nominee will face an uphill battle here, as the race is rated “Likely Republican” by Cook Political Report, Politico, RealClearPolitics and Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
Ohio Secretary of State: Republican Primary
Fire up Halo 2, give Usher’s Confessions a spin in your portable CD player, and crack open a Mountain Dew: Code Red. Why? Well, it must be 2004 again because we’re talking about the Ohio Secretary of State.
Given Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and to lay the groundwork for a follow-up in 2024, state office holders that control vote counting are more vital than ever.
Apparently former State Rep. John Adams smelled an opportunity, as he jumped in to challenge incumbent Republican Frank LaRose. LaRose, in response, began to fish for a Trump endorsement on Twitter. That initiative paid off when Trump indeed issued one ahead of an Ohio rally last week.
Ohio’s 7th Congressional District: Democratic and Republican Primaries
With Ohio losing a congressional seat from reapportionment, two Republican incumbents were drawn together into a new 7th district outside of Cleveland. One of those incumbents, Anthony Gonzalez (who always happens to be one of the ten House Republicans to vote for Trump’s second impeachment), announced his retirement back in September.
Such a move should’ve left the other incumbent, Rep. Bob Gibbs, in an easy position to win the nomination. Donald Trump, however, chose to weigh into this race and endorse former aide Max Miller instead. In response, Gibbs decided earlier this month to retire as well.
All this leaves Miller, with a rap sheet that includes speeding, underage drinking, disorderly conduct and allegedly slapping an ex-girlfriend, the heavy favorite in this new R+14 district.
Meanwhile, the Democratic ballot for this race features three candidates: small businessman Matthew Diemer, Patrick Malley and progressive activist Tristan Rader.
Ohio’s 11th Congressional District: Democratic Primary
Speaking of Cleveland, that city will be the site of a rematch from last summer between Rep. Shontel Brown and Nina Turner.
In case you don’t remember, former State Senator and top Bernie Sanders campaign aide Nina Turner lost a large lead while Brown hugged President Biden and hammered Turner for a number of critical comments aimed towards Biden.
Turner is running hard against Brown again, with an assist from Bernie-friendly groups and media outlets. She also won the endorsement of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, although winning the paper’s support last year didn’t make the difference.
At the same time, Brown won the endorsement of the House Progressive Caucus after becoming a member earlier this year. If Brown can survive this challenge, she should be safe in this D+54 seat for many years to come.
One last factor to keep an eye on is the new district lines, and whether Turner can make up ground in these areas of the city.
Indiana’s 9th Congressional District: Republican Primary
At long last we’ve made it to the Hoosier State. To be fair, though, Indiana’s Senate primaries are uncompetitive and most House incumbents are running for another term. One exception, though, is in the 9th district.
This R+30 seat, which makes up the Southeastern corner of the state, is newly open thanks to the retirement of Trey Hollingsworth. As a result, whoever wins this nomination will be set up for the foreseeable future.
Nine hopefuls qualified for the ballot: real estate broker Jim Baker, army veteran Stu Barnes-Israel, army veteran J. Michael Davisson, army veteran Dan Heiwig, State Senator Erin Houchin, professor D. Eric Schansberg, former Congressman Mike Sodrel, Bill Thomas and pastor Brian Tibbs.
Given that Sodrel held this seat from 2005 to 2007, and is the leading fundraiser, he has to be considered the favorite. It must be noted, though, that Houchin and Barnes-Israel also have sufficient funds so an upset is definitely possible.