An “Unprecedented” And Expensive Primary: Five Millionaire Republican #OHSEN Candidates Admit They Need To Spend $50 Million To Try And Out-Trump One Another

Columbus, OH —  According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, five of the leading millionaire Republican Senate candidates admitted they need to spend $10 million each in order to stand out in this crowded primary. The leading candidates are spending millions to try to prove they’re the biggest Trump lapdog – and Trump continues to encourage the candidates to chase down his endorsement.

A primary with this many well-funded candidates who could spend $10 million each would be “unprecedented” in Ohio, with many of the Republicans having a “fully loaded war chest.” These Republican millionaires are sitting on a pile of money – and once they start spending it will only escalate the attacks in this race to the bottom as Ohio voters and their interests continue to get left behind.  

“These Republican millionaires are willing to spend massive amounts of money that will only inject more nasty and personal attacks that will deepen the divisions in this crowded field and turn Ohio voters off. With each dollar spent, these out-of-touch millionaires will spotlight their weaknesses and leave whoever hobbles out of this primary deeply damaged heading into the general election,” said Michael Beyer, a spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party. 

Key points below:

Wall Street Journal: How Tight Is Trump’s Grip on the GOP? Take a Look at the Ohio Senate Primary

Michael Bender

October 6, 2021

  • Until recently, Portman-style candidates typified the party in the state, fending off opposition from socially conservative or Tea Party activists. No more. With Mr. Portman retiring, the fight to succeed him revolves around one question only: Which flavor of Trump is best?
  • The Ohio contest is one of a handful likely to determine control of the Senate, and what happens there could be a leading indicator of the viability of Trumpism without Mr. Trump on the ballot. The outcome will provide essential data points on Mr. Trump’s own decision about whether to run for president again in 2024 and what it will mean if he does.
  • “I’m watching Ohio very, very closely,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “They’re all for Trump—it’s a wonderful thing.”
  • “Democrats can still win here, especially if the Republican nominee is nothing but a Trumper,” said Aaron Pickrell, who oversaw former President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory in the state.
  • Though Mr. Trump hasn’t yet endorsed a candidate in Ohio, he told the Journal he is impressed by the “very good candidates in line with my thinking.” In his view, “The single biggest issue is the election fraud of 2020,” he added. There was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
  • By keeping the party under his thumb, Mr. Trump is maintaining his relevance for a potential rematch with President Biden. Mr. Trump has privately described his concern that his prominence as party kingmaker would fade if he stopped tending to his supporters, said people who have spoken to him.
  • Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel has coordinated private meetings with Mr. Trump for two Senate candidates the PayPal co-founder is backing—Mr. Vance in Ohio and Blake Masters in Arizona. Mr. Thiel has put $10 million into each race but said at a Sept. 10 meeting with Mr. Trump and Mr. Masters that the former president’s endorsement was more valuable, according to people briefed on the meeting.
  • Other Trump endorsements aim at unseating two types of Republicans: election officials in 2020 battleground states he lost but contends he won; and federal lawmakers who backed an impeachment charge related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Ten Republicans voted yes when the House impeached Mr. Trump in January, before the Senate acquitted him.
  • In Ohio, the quintet of pro-Trump Senate candidates are scrubbing past criticism of Mr. Trump from social media, hiring former Trump campaign officials and seeking endorsements from former officials of his administration.
  • Each has the means to assemble a fully loaded war chest for the primary battle. In interviews, all five said they expected to raise—from individual contributions or their own bank accounts—the $10 million that political operatives estimate a successful primary contest would cost.
  • That would give them all the ability to pitch to the two million Republican voters in the state’s 12 media markets. A primary with so many well-funded candidates would be unprecedented, political operatives said.
  • An early fundraising surprise is Mr. Moreno, a 54-year-old car dealer and tech entrepreneur who raised $2.2 million in the first three months of his campaign, roughly double what anyone else in the race collected in individual contributions.
  • In another era, his biggest liability might be his relatively short 16 years living in the state. Instead, it is having referred to Mr. Trump in 2016 as a “lunatic invading the party.”
  • Mr. Gibbons, the investment banker, who has put $5.7 million into the race, is also running on his business experience, but in a way that mirrors more closely Mr. Trump’s unpolished approach. In an interview, Mr. Gibbons, 69, referred to the 43-year-old Mr. Mandel as “a boy.”
  • Mr. Mandel has done his best Trump impression with his social-media presence. Allies and opponents alike privately speculated he was trying to get himself banned from the same platforms that have barred Mr. Trump.
  • Mr. Mandel’s latest focus is Mr. Vance, who has started to rise in candidates’ internal polls.
  • Mr. Mandel has attacked him as a “Never Trumper” and promoted video clips from 2016 showing Mr. Vance referring to some Trump voters as racists. Mr. Vance also referred to the party’s standard-bearer as “cultural heroin” in 2016, and he has deleted tweets critical of Mr. Trump, including one that called him “reprehensible.”
  • Mr. Mandel’s first target was Ms. Timken, a 55-year-old lawyer with experience in civil litigation and business disputes. She became chairwoman of the state Republican Party in 2017 when Mr. Trump helped her oust a chairman he deemed insufficiently supportive.
  • Trump advisers said the president was on a path to backing Ms. Timken for Senate bid but reconsidered after remarks she made after Rep. Gonzalez’s January vote to impeach. In an interview with the Plain Dealer, Ms. Timken called Mr. Gonzalez “an effective legislator” and a “very good person” who had “a rational reason” for his vote. 

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