All eyes were on Ohio’s 15th Congressional District on Tuesday night for one reason: to see whether President Trump is still the undisputed kingmaker of the Republican Party. Just a few hours after voting ended, that question was answered with a resounding “yes.” In a crowded 11-person field, Trump-backed businessman Mike Carey, whom Trump held an event for in Lorain County earlier this summer which he labeled “the very first rally of the 2022 election,” won a 23-point blowout primary victory, apparently putting to rest predictions that the former President’s political clout has waned since leaving office.
When Rep. Steve Stivers made the surprise announcement this April that he would retire from the Congressional seat he had held for more than a decade, a huge field of Republicans emerged to replace him. Central Ohio’s 15th Congressional District has a long history of sending Republicans to Washington, and this special election would likely be no different. Whichever candidate emerged victorious in the primary would, in all likelihood, have the opportunity to serve in a safe seat for many years to come.
Although the Republican Primary field grew to 11 candidates, the race truly came down to two – businessman Mike Carey and state Rep. Jeff LaRe. Carey, an Army veteran and successful energy executive, had the coveted endorsement of President Trump. LaRe, a current state Representative for Ohio’s 77th House District, was handpicked and endorsed by Rep. Stivers to replace him. This Buckeye State special election quickly came down to a test of whether the Republican voters in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District would follow Trump or Stivers. It was a microcosm of the dynamic that many political observers believe will define Republican primaries ahead of the 2022 midterms.
This storyline was not lost on the mainstream media, who were determined to cast anything short of a dominant Carey victory as a crushing defeat for President Trump and his political future. Journalists and Never-Trump critics alike had just rejoiced the previous week at the results of the recent runoff election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District. In that race, Texas State Representative Jake Ellzey won the special election over Trump-backed Susan Wright.
However, much of the media conveniently ignored the complexities of that race which actually undercut their desired narrative. The July 27th runoff pitted two pro-Trump Republicans against one another after Democrats failed to get a candidate into the run-off in an open primary in April. In that vote, President Trump’s endorsed candidate, Republican Susan Wright, finished in first with 19.2 percent of the vote, while fellow Republican Jake Ellzey finished in second place with 13.8 percent of the vote. The Texas Democratic Party, which has clung to closer statewide elections in recent years as a sign of changing political tides, was left with a giant black eye after their third-place candidate, Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez, was locked out of the runoff.
Any fair-minded reporter or political observer would surely point out that the July 27th runoff in Texas’s 6th Congressional District was a win-win for Republicans no matter what. And those same reporters and observers would be remiss not to point out that in a low-turnout election between two Republican candidates, enough Democrat voters could turn out and hold their noses to vote for Ellzey in order to spite President Trump and his endorsed candidate, which appears to be exactly what took place.
Nevertheless, the media advanced a dishonest narrative throughout the past week claiming that President Trump’s standing in the Republican Party was weakened by the results.
That narrative was utterly crushed Tuesday night with Mike Carey’s impressive victory, as the candidate himself was eager to point out. “Tonight, Republicans across Ohio’s 15th Congressional District sent a clear message to the nation that President Donald J. Trump is, without a doubt, the leader of our party,” Carey said in a tweet following his victory. “I could not be more grateful for his support, and I am proud to deliver this win to advance his America First agenda.”
Carey clearly recognizes that if he wins on November 2, when he faces Democrat state Rep. Allison Russo in a special general election, he will have President Trump to thank.
The former president aggressively flexed his political muscles in this primary, and it paid off for Mike Carey. Following the rally in Lorain County, President Trump released multiple statements declaring that only Carey had received his endorsement after other competitors in the race repeatedly tried to tie themselves to him. To further secure a Carey victory, the Trump affiliated Super PAC, Make America Great Again Action, Inc., spent more than $300,000 on the race in the final weeks on text messages, digital, and TV ads. But President Trump was taking nothing for granted as he held a second tele-rally for Mike Carey on the night before Election Day.
After the triumph for his candidate on Tuesday night, Trump released a statement to his now quiet detractors regarding his political clout. “One of the biggest stories in the Lamestream Media yesterday was the very important Congressional race in Ohio and whether or not Trump-backed candidate, Mike Carey, would lose against a large and outstanding field of other candidates. The mainstream was chomping at the bit to report a loss for a Trump endorsed candidate—they couldn’t wait,” President Trump said. “But lo and behold, instead of a loss, there was a landslide victory for Mike—a win far larger than even the most optimistic of polls.”
As this week proved, Donald Trump is still the undisputed kingmaker of the Republican Party.