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Government/Politics

Ohio's Republican U.S. Senate candidates not endorsed by Trump are still likely to tout support of him

News: Senate Republican Primary Debates
Joshua A. Bickel/Joshua A. Bickel/Ohio Debate Com
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The Columbus Dispatch
The field of Republican candidates for US Senate at the Ohio Debate Commission's debate at Central State University in March 2022: from far left, JD Vance, Mike Gibbons, Jane Timken, Josh Mandel, Mark Pukita, Matt Dolan and Neil Patel.

Former President Donald Trump will be at the Delaware County Fairgrounds this weekend with his newly endorsed candidate in Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senate race, J.D. Vance.

But what does that do to the campaigns of three other leading candidates in that race who had been marketing themselves as strong Trump followers?

In his ads, Mike Gibbons said he's "Trump tough." So does Jane Timken, who also calls herself a "MAGA conservative." While Josh Mandel's tag line is "pro-God, pro-gun, pro-Trump."

But Republican pollster Neil Newhouse said he doesn’t think Gibbons, Timken, or Mandel should change their ads or approach.

“If anything, I would probably double down on it right now. Given you've got five candidates in this race that are all getting at least 9% or so of the vote, you've got a third of the voters basically undecided here. Confusion reigns," Newhouse said.

“If these candidates are not talking about support for Trump, many voters may very well assume that the candidates don't support him, which is, that could be damaging in the Republican primary. So I would not take my foot off the gas. I press down the pedal a little bit harder.”

Newhouse says there are ways for non-endorsed candidates to promote their support of Trump without implying he’s endorsed them. Last year Trump told Republicans to stop using the former president's name and likeness to raise funds.

But with some Republicans saying they’re angry that Trump has endorsed Vance, who opposed Trump before he launched his U.S. Senate campaign last year, Newhouse said the race could be wide open.

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