Former President Donald Trump has been out of office for almost seven months, leading some to believe his political influence has declined among the ranks of the GOP.
After his preferred candidate lost a special election in Texas last week, some political pundits prematurely sounded Trump’s demise.
However, Tuesday night’s Ohio House Republican primary win by Trump-backed Mike Carey reveals the former president’s influence among his Republican base is still very much alive. Carey’s race reinforced Trump’s status as a GOP kingmaker, even with 10 candidates vying for the seat of former U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers.
Writing for Politico, Marissa Martinez wrote, “Carey’s win affirms Trump’s ability to influence Republican primaries… after Susan Wright, another Republican House candidate backed by the former president, lost her own special election for a district in Texas last week.”
The difference? In Ohio, only Republicans could vote in the primary.
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Carey, a political newcomer, defeated a crowd of other Republican candidates in his Columbus-area race, including some with GOP establishment backing and experience in state politics.
Carey labeled himself as an “outsider” just like his most high-profile supporter, according to Politico.
All of the candidates in the Columbus-area GOP primary billed themselves as conservatives, and many boasted more legislative-branch experience than Carey, including state Rep. Jeff LaRe, state Sens. Bob Peterson, and Stephanie Kunze, and former state Rep. Ron Hood. In the end, they divided the vote and left Carey with about 37% of the vote to win.
He’ll take on Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo, a health policy consultant who won the Democratic nomination, in the GOP-leaning 15th Congressional District this fall.
Trump quickly celebrated Carey’s win Tuesday in a statement.
“Thank you to Ohio and all of our wonderful American patriots,” he said. “Congratulations to Mike and his family. He will never let you down!”
The GOP result was a blow to Stivers, a moderate Republican who retired from the seat in May and endorsed state Rep. LaRe, a security executive with law enforcement experience, in the race.
But Stivers pledged he’d support Carey this fall and LaRe called for Republicans to “all work together to keep central Ohio red for decades to come.”
Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County Council member Shontel Brown pulled out a victory for the Democratic establishment in Cleveland over the more left-leaning progressive candidate Nina Turner. It was another blow to a liberal wing that has been challenging the Democratic old guard with a more confrontational style.
Brown will face Republican Laverne Gore for the 11th Congressional District seat in the Nov. 2 general election.