An Ohio Republican insider who held senior positions in Donald J. Trump’s 2016 and since then been a consultant for Republican Senate and gubernatorial races told The Ohio Star each of the top four candidates running for the 2022 GOP Senate nomination has a shot at Trump’s endorsement.
“I think each of these candidates can make an argument to give an endorsement. Every one of them, all the top four,” said the insider and Ohio native.
Joshua A. Mandel
Former state treasurer and Marine Iraq veteran Joshua A. Mandel is leading in all the polls, and he has recovered from his surprise dropping of the 2018 Senate race, which was supposed to be a rematch of with Democratic Sen. Sherrod C. Brown, who beat him 51 percent to Mandel’s 45 percent, he said.
“Certainly, Josh kept to it because you have Club for Growth has endorsed him. And there’s been a lot of synergy between Trump and Club for Growth and their endorsements—right?” he said.
Jane E. Timken
Jane E. Timken, who took over as chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party in 2017, was Trump’s choice to run the party after the previous chairman Matthew Borges was actively working against Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign, he said.
Multiple media outlets reported that Trump was talked out of an early endorsement of Timken in March, and she has made mistakes dealing with the president, such a backing now-retiring Rep. Anthony E. Gonzalez after the Ohio Republican voted to impeach Trump in January.
“She’s had some slipups,” he said. “The Gonzales thing, she supported Gonzales after he voted to impeach the president—and I think she hasn’t candidly been very good in these forums, and she’s not a great candidate. I just think that she’s got a lot to overcome.”
The insider said that investment banker Mike Gibbons has a shot at the endorsement because he was with Trump early in the 2016 campaign before he made his 2018 Senate run.
“Gibbons could make a case for an endorsement because Mike’s been very quiet about it, but he raised more money–he was the Ohio co-chair for Trump twice–raised a tremendous amount of money, did it behind the scenes, but he’s been a huge supporter of Trump,” the insider said.
“When he was supporting Trump in ‘16, he had no inkling he was going to be in politics, so he was doing it really to help the president purely and really the country,” he said.
The fourth candidate J.D. Vance, an investment banker and the author of “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture,” a book about his family in Kentucky, could get the Trump endorsement because he is supported by people close to the president and his message lines up precisely with Trump’s, he said.
“With J.D. Vance, there is the Peter Thiel connection,” the insider said. Thiel is a billionaire co-founder of PayPal, a powerful voice in the Trump world.
In addition to Thiel, Donald J. Trump Jr., and former Trump White House staffer Andy Surabian are backing him. “They’re in the president’s ear about Vance, but Vance, I mean, he could just, by virtue of his rhetoric, or what he talks about is MAGA.”
The problem is that Vance said very negative things about Trump before he was a candidate,” he said.
“I mean, he gets it, but he’s come to it late, and he’s got all these bags,” he said. “Right. And when he did it, it seemed so odd that it’s like, Vance’s whole story and his whole thing should have lined him up with Trump from the beginning, and so, to have him go up against Trump with his story just seemed to make it more devastating.”
The insider said it is a mystery to him how Vance could have been so anti-Trump, given that Trump’s whole program is to look out for the people Vance was writing about in his book.
“It was crazy. It really made no sense when it was, and I don’t think a lot of people knew him. I mean, other than through the book and stuff, maybe he was worried about selling his book to Hollywood.”
– – –
Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor of The Star News Network. Follow him on Twitter: @neilwmccabe2. Send him news tips at: [email protected]
Photo “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0.