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Most expensive primary in Ohio history doesn't slow down on the final weekend before election day

Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
People line up for a rally with former President Donald Trump, Republican U.S. candidate JD Vance, and other primary candidates at the Delaware County fairgrounds.

Tomorrow brings an end to the most expensive primary in Ohio history, the race for the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.

More than $65 million has been spent by the five leading candidates and the groups that support and oppose them.

On Sunday, a little over two weeks after former president Donald Trump delivered his long-awaited endorsement in Ohio, he was on stage in Nebraska talking about his endorsement of "JP — JD Mandel".

That’s a blow to J.D. Vance, who got Trump’s endorsement, and maybe a boost for Josh Mandel.

But no matter who wins, "the real winner in the primary is once again on the Republican side, Donald Trump, because this entire campaign was really about who was sort of the most throw Trump, most America first candidate in the field," said Ohio-based Nick Everhart, a national GOP media consultant and president of Content Creative Media and Medium Buying.

The money being spent on ads in just the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Ohio is record breaking: nearly $65.7 million.

“This is at least three to four times as much as it's ever been spent on a Republican statewide primary ever. So in Ohio context, it's historical," Everhart said. He expects the total by November to top $150 million.

More than $79.3 million was spent in the primary and general elections in the 2012 US Senate campaign in Ohio, featuring Republican state treasurer Josh Mandel and incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. With all the candidate spending and outside money, that was the most expensive race in state history. Around $38.5 million was spent in total in the 2018 US Senate campaign in Ohio.

Everhart said the only GOP Senate or governor primary this year that's going to get close to the Ohio Republican US Senate primary is the Pennsylvania Senate primary, where Trump has endorsed TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Everhart said, based on both political GOP insiders and forecasters like the Cook Political Report, "this race is really all about the primary. Whoever comes out of this primary in this political environment, with how hard to the right Ohio skewed Republican, is in a prime position to win in the general."

Vance campaigned this weekend with Congressmembers Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, while Mandel brought in Sen. Ted Cruz. Matt Dolan and Mike Gibbons were out greeting voters, and so was Jane Timken, with Portman, whose endorsement of her hasn’t helped her move up.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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