Seven candidates are running in the May 3 Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio on May 3, including Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel, Jane Timken, and J.D. Vance. Incumbent Rob Portman (R), first elected in 2010, announced on Jan. 25, 2021, that he would not seek re-election.
Matt Dolan, Neil Patel, and Mark Pukita are also running in the primary. Gibbons, Mandel, Timken, and Vance have led in fundraising, endorsements, and polling.
Politico’s Alex Isenstadt wrote that “[t]he Senate race in Ohio is a high-profile example of how Trump is dominating Republican down-ballot primaries, and how his support is seen as make-or-break for those seeking the party’s nomination.”
Gibbons, a businessman and investor, says his background in the private sector has prepared him for the U.S. Senate: “My job was to go in and convince CEOs and CFOs that they could trust me to handle the most important transactions those companies would ever do. And I have to tell you, I think it’s great practice for the U.S. Senate.” Gibbons co-chaired former President Donald Trump’s (R) 2016 campaign in Ohio, and has said, “I don’t believe we had a president that did more for this country in my lifetime than Donald Trump did.” Gibbons also said, “the Republican Party is not about just Donald Trump, the Republican Party most carefully reflects my ideology which is, as I said philosophical conservatism.” Sen. Rand Paul (R) endorsed Gibbons.
Mandel served as Ohio treasurer from 2011 to 2019. Mandel said, “when I get to Washington, I’m not just going to drain the swamp, I’m going to blow up the swamp. And yes, I’ll be taking on the secular left, yes, I’ll be taking on the radical left. But with as much ferocity and strength and force, I’m going to take on the squishy establishment RINO Republicans,” a group he says includes Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R), Wyoming Sen. Liz Cheney (R), and Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R). Mandel has also said, “there’s only one candidate that consistently says in every audience — whether it’s Hudson, Ohio, or Cincinnati, Ohio, or Toledo or Marietta — what I am about to say to you…that I believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald J. Trump.” U.S. Sens. Mike Lee (R) and Cynthia Lummis (R) endorsed Mandel.
Timken has been the chair of the Ohio Republican Party since 2017. Timken said her experience leading the Ohio Republican Party shows that she can unite the party: “As soon as I became chair, I realized that I needed to bring people together. We had new Republicans that came into the party because of President Trump. We had some that drifted away. I successfully unified the party when I became chair, and so I have a real understanding of building a broad base and coalition of support. And that’s what I’ve been working on since I announced this campaign.” Timken has said she believes the November 2020 presidential election was marked by fraud and that she would not have voted to certify the election results. On Feb. 16, 2022, Portman endorsed Timken.
Vance served in the U.S. Marine Corps. from 2003 to 2007 before working in venture capital in San Francisco. In 2016, he wrote Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir about growing up in Middletown, Ohio. Vance has campaigned on bringing manufacturing back to Ohio, fixing the country’s immigration system and completing the wall along the southern border, and breaking up large technology companies. Vance was critical of Trump in 2016 but has said, “I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016, because I’ve been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them, and I regret being wrong about the guy. I think he was a good president, I think he made a lot of good decisions for people, and I think he took a lot of flak.” Sen. Josh Hawley (R) endorsed Vance.
In 2016, Portman defeated Ted Strickland (D) 58% to 37.2%. Sen. John H. Glenn Jr., who served from 1974 to 1999, was the last Democrat to hold the seat, serving from 1974 to 1999.
Donald Trump won Ohio by eight percentage points in 2016.