Arguably, members of the GMMTV (Gibbons-Mandel-Moreno-Timken-Vance) quintet can be differentiated mainly by their degrees of devotion to, or at least praise of, Donald Trump. After all, the then-president handily carried Ohio last November. Among the hymn-singers, it’ll be hard to out-shout Mandel, whose fire-and-brimstone style demonstrates how ardently he wants Portman’s Senate seat. Get in the candidate’s way, and the ex-Marine may smother you with press releases.
Timken, as the only female Republican seeking the nomination, may have a gender advantage. Ohio – unlike, say, neighboring states Michigan and West Virginia – has never elected a woman of either party to the Senate, and Republican women might see Timken as a path-breaker.
Whether Matt Dolan or someone from the GMMTV quintet will land the nomination and the seat itself is impossible to predict, given the volatility of Ohio politics these days. In contrast, it’s all but certain Republicans will nominate Gov. Mike DeWine for a second term.
But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee big GOP turnout for the state ticket in November 2022. In fact, a good number of Republicans could stay home because some Republicans fault DeWine for trying to save Ohioans’ lives. Some of those Republicans claim to oppose abortion – to be pro-life. To any rational person, that’s a huge contradiction
But there’s no reasoning with unreasonable people, a category General Assembly over-represents – thanks to gerrymandering and term-limits. (The Statehouse effects of term-limits can call to mind what Molly Ivins once wrote about the Texas Legislature: Every village loses its idiot when the legislature is in session.)
Popular election of senators was a demand of reformers on the altogether reasonable grounds that Senate seats had been bought and sold at the Statehouse like so many carloads of grain when the legislature picked senators. Yet Ohio’s first popularly elected senator, Marion Republican Warren G. Harding, doesn’t exactly figure in the Annals of American Greatness.
Which of the 2022 Republican Senate candidates Ohio GOP voters slate will send a strong signal about whether the Ohio Republican Party is trending steadily rightward – or whether Trump’s 2016 and 2020 Ohio victories really didn’t change Ohio’s historic GOP heritage: The non-ideological, Git-R-Done politics practiced by, say, James A. Rhodes and George V. Voinovich.
Thomas Suddes is an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio University. Previously, he was a veteran Statehouse reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.