*** Election Night Livewire *** Ohio, Indiana Primaries Set Tone for Future of GOP, Test Trump Endorsement Strength

AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File
AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File

Voters in Indiana and Ohio will decide who will represent them in November’s general elections in the primaries in both states on Tuesday, setting the tone in particular for the future of the Republican party and testing former President Donald Trump’s endorsement strength in a big way.

Trump has 22 endorsements on the line across both states on Tuesday, some in competitive races and others in not-so-competitive primaries. The biggest banner race of the night is the five-way GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio, where Trump has endorsed author J.D. Vance–a hardcore nationalist populist–against four other candidates, three of whom sought Trump’s backing and one of whom did not. Those other candidates–Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel, Jane Timken, and Matt Dolan–all represent different views on the future of the GOP than Trump in varying degrees, but Dolan in particular represents a major departure from Trump’s view for the party. That’s why it was particularly interesting on Tuesday morning to see Dolan’s wife and some top national leftists like Daily Kos urging Ohio Democrats to pull GOP ballots and vote for Dolan in the primary on Tuesday.

Success for Vance would spell good news for Trump-endorsed candidates in other upcoming primaries, such as those in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and elsewhere, where some have struggled and some have prospered. That’s because Vance shot to the front of the pack in the final weeks of the race in polling after Trump backed him, despite an all-out effort against him from some in the donor class and establishment. Whoever wins the GOP nomination for Senate in Ohio will likely face Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) in the general election, a tougher-than-it-looks race given Ryan’s push to portray himself as tough on China.

Ohio’s Senate primary is hardly the only big race of the night. Several competitive congressional primaries in both Ohio and Indiana will also test Trump’s endorsement and offer insight into how the GOP’s future will look. What’s more, Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine aims to fend off two primary challengers–former Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Joe Blystone–something polling indicates he is likely to do. Seeing whether the polls are right and DeWine can seal the deal will also say a lot about the party– in different respects than Trump’s endorsement will, but also in an interesting way.

These elections are the first, too, since the unprecedented leak of a draft decision from the U.S. Supreme Court indicating that Justices are likely to overturn Roe v. Wade later this year, so how that affects things electorally may or may not be apparent in certain results on Tuesday evening.

Follow along here for live updates as the results pour in from across Indiana and Ohio after the polls close at 6 p.m. local time in Indiana and at 7:30 p.m. local time in Ohio. Ohio is in eastern time entirely, and Indiana is mostly in eastern time–though some of it is in central time–so results should come in shortly thereafter.

UPDATE 10:47 p.m. ET

Mike Gibbons has conceded in Ohio and endorsed Vance for the general election–meaning all the major candidates have now coalesced quickly behind Vance on election night, no small feat.

“I’m humbled, proud, and honored by the overwhelming support we received from Ohioans all across the Buckeye state tonight. Even though tonight did not go our way tonight, we won’t be discouraged,” Gibbons said. “We have a lot of work left to do. Tomorrow is the first day of the general election – the most important of our lifetime. Congrats to JD Vance and his well earned victory. I fully support him as the Republican nominee. Never forget, our strength as America does not begin in Washington, it begins here in Ohio. As Republicans we must unite to ensure our values are represented in Washington.”

UPDATE 10:40 p.m. ET

And there it is. Trump-backed Madison Gesiotto Gilbert has won the GOP nomination for Congress in Ohio’s 13th congressional district, according to the Associated Press:

This means President Trump went 22-0 in his endorsements on Tuesday evening, which follows a 33-0 record in Texas back in early March. That means Trump’s record is now 55-0 this year, a perfect record of endorsements.

UPDATE 10:39 p.m. ET

With more than 95 percent reporting in Ohio’s 13th congressional district GOP primary, Trump’s last endorsement yet to be formally called as a winner–Madison Gesiotto Gilbert–has a firm lead of more than 2,000 votes with 28.3 percent of the vote. The next closest candidate has just 23.7 percent–more than 4 percent less–than she does.

UPDATE 10:18 p.m. ET

Big night for GOP women:

UPDATE 10:09 p.m. ET

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) has formally won his primary in Ohio:

That is the 21st Trump-backed candidate out of 22 this evening to win. The last, Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, is leading her race right now.

UPDATE 10:07 p.m. ET

Erin Houchin has won the GOP primary in Indiana’s 9th congressional district:

UPDATE 10:04 p.m. ET

Blake Masters, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona whose fate is intrinsically linked to Vance’s destiny, tweeted out his congratulations to Vance as well:

Masters faces a similarly crowded field in August’s GOP primary in Arizona for U.S. Senate in a field that is very similar to the Ohio one. Vance’s victory bodes very well for Masters.

UPDATE 10:01 p.m. ET

Josh Mandel has also conceded and endorsed Vance for the general election:

UPDATE 10:00 p.m. ET

Jane Timken has also conceded and endorsed Vance:

UPDATE 9:57 p.m. ET

Matt Dolan has formally conceded the race, admitted Vance won, and endorsed Vance for the general election against Democrat Tim Ryan:

UPDATE 9:52 p.m. ET

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich, in a statement to Breitbart News, said Trump’s endorsement is what propelled Vance to victory–and it is a sign of things to come in future elections.

UPDATE 9:45 p.m. ET

A total of 20 of Trump’s endorsed candidates across Ohio and Indiana have won so far this evening–he has a perfect record in Indiana, and is close to sealing a perfect record in Ohio–a sign that the former president is clearly still in command of the Republican Party. The only two Trump-backed candidates not yet formally declared victors tonight are Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) in Ohio–who holds a commanding lead in his race so far–and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who has a healthy lead of her own in her race. Assuming those two hold on, Trump will be 22-0 on this important primary night–and 55-0 overall this year, including the Texas primaries back in early March. Anyone who says this is not Trump’s party is clearly not telling the truth–or is divorced from reality. It is his party, and he is firmly in the driver’s seat of the direction of the GOP.

UPDATE 9:38 p.m. ET

The networks and AP have finally caught up to reality and the rest of us and called the Ohio GOP Senate primary for the Trump-backed Vance, a massive win for the former president:

UPDATE 9:22 p.m. ET

Max Miller has won his primary in Ohio’s 7th congressional district, the Associated Press projects:

This is yet another major win for Trump, and he backed Miller way back before outgoing failed Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)–one of the 10 impeachment Republicans in the House–bowed out of the primary and chose against trying to run for reelection. Trump is firmly in command of the Republican Party.

UPDATE 9:13 p.m. ET

Decision Desk HQ has also called the race, so it is pretty clear that Vance has won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Ohio:

UPDATE 9:12 p.m. ET

With 44 percent reporting, Vance only continues to increase his lead. His 122,827 votes–30.6 percent–are significantly higher than Mandel’s 98,409 votes and 24.5 percent. Dolan is in third with 87,909 votes and 21.9 percent. Hard to see how Vance does not formally win this one, as Wasserman from Cook Political Report projects.

UPDATE 9:03 p.m. ET

Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Bill Johnson (R-OH)–two more Trump-backed picks–have won their primaries:

UPDATE 8:56 p.m. ET 

Trump cleaned up down-ticket in Ohio, too, as all his statewide candidates–Frank LaRose for Secretary of State, Dave Yost for Attorney General, Keith Faber for Auditor and Robert Sprague for Treasurer–all won their races too.

UPDATE 8:46 p.m. ET

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report says that Vance will win the primary:

Wasserman is generally correct in his calls, so it is highly unlikely that Vance will not end up being victorious. This will be a huge win for Trump assuming it happens.

UPDATE 8:42 p.m. ET

With 22 percent reporting, Vance has taken a nearly 10,000-vote lead over Mandel–Vance’s 28.5 percent leads Mandel’s 23.5 percent–and Dolan is down at 21.9 percent.

UPDATE 8:38 p.m. ET

Again, it’s still early, but Mandel’s team are not acting like winners this evening. His top strategist, Jeff Roe–who managed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s 2016 presidential campaign–reportedly called Trump tonight to congratulate him on what would be a strong performance from Vance:

UPDATE 8:36 p.m. ET

With 19 percent reporting, Vance’s lead over the field has widened. His more than 4 percent lead–with 27.5 percent–is much stronger than second and third place Mandel and Dolan. It is noteworthy though that Mandel has climbed back to second place, for now, with 23.3 percent and Dolan is down at 22.3 percent.

UPDATE 8:25 p.m. ET

The victory from Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN) also means Trump’s record in Indiana is perfect, as all of his endorsements in the state won. Several of his Ohio endorsements have already won as well, and the rest are currently leading their races.

UPDATE 8:24 p.m. ET

With Trump’s support, Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN) has also easily fended off a primary challenge according to the AP:

That means Trump is at least 11 out of 22 already on this busy first major primary night in May.

UPDATE 8:23 p.m. ET

GOP Gov. Mike DeWine in Ohio has easily fended off two primary challengers and won his race to again be the nominee for governor this November, according to the Associated Press:

UPDATE 8:12 p.m. ET

With 14 percent reporting, Vance holds a 2-point lead at 25.5 percent to Dolan’s 23.5 percent with Mandel at 22.3 percent. Privately, Vance allies are confident in the early returns.

UPDATE 8:04 p.m. ET

With 11 percent reporting in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary, Vance’s 26 percent still leads Dolan’s 23.1 percent and Mandel’s 21.8 percent. This seems to be the race–between these three–and Vance has a slight edge.

UPDATE 8:02 p.m. ET

At least 10 of Trump’s 22 endorsements have already won their races, according to New York Times race calls in Ohio and Indiana. All of the rest are very much in play and could be headed for victories. If they all win, Trump will be 55-0 this year so far dating back to Texas primaries in early March–a remarkable feat.

UPDATE 7:58 p.m. ET

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) has won the Democrat nomination for U.S. Senate in Ohio, per the Associated Press:

UPDATE 7:53 p.m. ET

Vance’s lead has, with 6 percent reporting, widened to nearly 5 full percent. Vance, at 27 percent, leads Dolan’s 22.6 percent, while Mandel is down at 21.7 percent. While it is very, very early, if this trend and margin holds, it would seem to mirror the final results of a late-breaking Trafalgar Group poll just before the election the other night:

UPDATE 7:48 p.m. ET

With 4 percent reporting in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary, Vance is now in the lead with 26.5 percent to Dolan’s 24.2 percent. Mandel is stuck in third place.

UPDATE 7:47 p.m. ET

Trump’s endorsements on the line in Ohio include Vance for Senate, Frank LaRose for Secretary of State, Dave Yost for Attorney General, Keith Faber for Auditor, Robert Sprague for Treasurer, and Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Bob Latta (R-OH), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Mike Turner (R-OH), Troy Balderson (R-OH), and Mike Carey (R-OH). He is also backing Max Miller in Ohio’s seventh district and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert in Ohio’s 13th district.

UPDATE 7:45 p.m. ET

It’s early but Gov. DeWine has a huge lead in the GOP primary for governor. With 2 percent reporting, he’s over 60 percent and his next closest challenger is 40 percent or so lower than him.

UPDATE 7:42 p.m. ET

With 2 percent reporting according to the New York Times, the Never Trump Dolan has taken a slight lead in the Ohio Senate primary. Vance is about a percent behind him.

UPDATE 7:30 p.m. ET

The polls have closed now in Ohio, and everyone is awaiting first results to start coming in in the all-important Buckeye State primaries.

UPDATE: 7:25 p.m. ET

With 18 percent reporting in Indiana’s 6th congressional district according to the New York Times, the Trump-backed incumbent Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN) has opened a huge more than 50 percent lead over his primary challenger.

UPDATE 7:09 p.m. ET

In Indiana’s ninth district GOP primary, Erin Houchin–a former state senator backed by House GOP conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik–has now taken a lead, according to the New York Times:

Houchin has focused on her record of fighting the left in campaign ads:

UPDATE 7:02 p.m. ET

Polls in all of Indiana are now closed. Polls in Ohio are open for another half an hour, and betting markets, polling, and internet search traffic indicate J.D. Vance is the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination there:

UPDATE 6:52 p.m. ET

Some results are starting to come in in Indiana’s ninth congressional district GOP primary, where combat Army veteran Stu Barnes-Israel leads in the early results. Barnes-Israel, who previously appeared on Breitbart News Saturday earlier in the cycle, is one of many conservative veterans running for office this cycle.

UPDATE 6:24 p.m. ET

The first results are starting to trickle in from Indiana’s eastern counties and the Trump-endorsed Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN)–the brother of former Vice President Mike Pence–is leading a primary challenger. Trump’s endorsement of Greg Pence is significant given his very public falling out with his former Vice President, the congressman’s brother, but again a test of Trump’s strength.

Others Trump has endorsed in Indiana include Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Jim Banks (R-IN), Victoria Spartz (R-IN), Jim Baird (R-IN), and Larry Buchson (R-IN)–all of whom are running unopposed and will win their primaries unchallenged.

UPDATE 6:07 p.m. ET
Polls have closed in most of Indiana now, and we should start expecting results soon:

The polls in the rest of the state will close at 7 p.m. ET.


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