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Ohio Senate Primary: JD Vance vs Josh Mandel vs Mike Gibbons

Though the Ohio Primary is not until May 3, 2022, the ball must get rolling as there are several high-profile primary races that will attract nationwide interest. Once the “Mother of Presidents”, Ohio has turned into the Mother of RINO’s, whereby the political machine has engendered a climate of impotence. With such figures as Kasich and DeWine, the conservative grassroots need a kick in the butt to help mobilize the base to voting for actual conservatives for a change. 

Replacing outgoing Senator Rob Portman is a critical opportunity. Plainly said, Rob Portman is a RINO with a 32% Liberty Score for such votes as Covid spending relief bills—the ones that cost trillions and spurred inflation, a vote on a January 6 commission, voting to overturn Trump’s National Emergency on the southern border (one of few actual national emergencies in the history of the NEA), and his propensity of voting for endless government spending. More recently, he supported Biden’s Build Back Better, the same bill that packaged tyranny with Green New Deal initiatives with inflation. Because his seat is an open seat, numerous big spending candidates have tossed their names into the hat. Both those who have previously campaigned for the senate and those who are fresh in politics are vying for what could be a career seat in a state that is trending red.

This feature will discuss the Senate Primary where candidates will be ranked based on their appearance in Trafalgar Group’s polling, as reported by RealClearPolitics.

Poll Conducted Between 02/08/22 - 02/10/22

The Contenders

The current frontrunner in this race and leader in the latest Trafalgar Group Poll at 21% is Josh Mandel. Mandel was the former Treasury Secretary for two terms with an emphasis on financial transparency. He is the only candidate I have seen who solicits donations in crypto and he has garnered endorsements from Mike Flynn, Mark Levin, and Senator Mike Lee. Mandel appears to resonate with the base at the ground level and has been against the Rainbow Jihad for a demonstrable period going back to his days in the legislature. He has notably attacked George Soros and garnered the ire of the ADL. He previously failed to win the senate seat in 2012, probably because of Romney’s presence at the top of the ticket and served two terms as Treasury Secretary. In 2018, he withdrew from the primary citing his wife’s medical condition. Herein lies the biggest uncertainty with Josh Mandel—his sex life. Mandel and his wife divorced in April of 2020. Though he cited his wife’s health issues for exiting his campaign in 2018, it might have been that he was having an affair with his then-campaign staffer Rachel Wilson, who he allegedly dated or still is dating. Wilson was described as creating a very catty environment. Maybe the timing is circumstantial, but one never knows with career politicians. Although Mandel is not as clean as he appears, he does otherwise boast a solidly conservative record.

Most polls generally have career entrepreneur Mike Gibbons placing second. Gibbons is second in cash and has secured an endorsement from Rand Paul. In 2016 he worked for Trump’s Ohio campaign. Gibbons would place second in the Republican primary in 2018, where Renacci would go on to lose. I am skeptical on his adherence to conservative premises, as he pretty much accepted the premise of the vaccines, even promoting it in May of 2021, after claims of inefficacy and severe side effects were reported. The article he tweets out by the Washington Examiner accepts the premise that lockdowns were good. Another problem that has arisen on the campaign trail is the life issue. While Gibbons suggests that he is unequivocally pro-life, he is alleged to have claimed to be “a ‘pro-people’ person who’s not dogmatic on social issues.” The same AP article from 2017 also alleged that he claims that he is not pro-choice, but since he is not a woman, he would not choose for them. There is legitimate reason to question how pro-life Gibbons is, and whether he is a squish or not on the issue.

Placing third in the polls is JD Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy and Yale graduate turned venture capitalist. Being a quasi-celebrity, Vance is one of several vying for senate seats nationwide this cycle and has attracted the endorsements of Peter Thiel (who is supporting him via a PAC), Marjorie Taylor Greene, Charlie Kirk, and Senator Josh Hawley. No doubt, with big names and big money backing, Vance should be polling better than third place, but there are reasonable concerns to be had. Vance was vehemently anti-Trump in 2016, calling deriding his immigration rhetoric as xenophobic. In a 2016 article for National Review, Vance wrote the following on the racial divide in America and white privilege:

Getting whipped into a frenzy on conspiracy websites, or feeling that distant, faceless elites dislike you because of your white skin, doesn’t compare. But the great advantages of whiteness in America are invisible to the white poor, or are completely swallowed by the disadvantages of their class…In building a dialogue around “checking privilege,” the modern progressive elite is implicitly asking white America — especially the segregated white poor — for a level of social awareness unmatched in the history of the country. White failure to empathize with blacks is sometimes a failure of character, but it is increasingly a failure of geography and socialization. Poor whites in West Virginia don’t have the time or the inclination to read Harvard economics studies. And the privileges that matter — that is, the ones they see — are vanishing because of destitution: the privilege to pay for college without bankruptcy, the privilege to work a decent job, the privilege to put food on the table without the aid of food stamps, the privilege not to learn of yet another classmate’s premature death.

The white privilege he describes is juxtaposed with black people experiencing more scrutiny from police. Vance suggests that the economic displacement, caused by mass immigration and globalization that disproportionately effects the Rust Belt, and societal animus towards white people, which emanates from the elite and Hollywood, does not compare to the “black experience,” which I suppose is true if one considers subcultural attitudes, crime statistics, and the broken black family structure. One might infer that he calls these white people unintelligent—if only they read the studies, then they would know. Nevertheless, in 2016 Vance accepted the Ivy League premises on white privilege, white fragility, and what we now identify by name as Critical Race Theory, yet he boasts on his campaign website that he is against CRT.

This was not someone who was concerned about Trump’s conservative credentials. People change, that is true, but are we to believe that he went from tone deaf Never-Trump in 2016 to now advocating strong border security, pro-vax anti-mandate, and bringing back jobs—two of the three being Trump’s key winning issues. That is a horse-sized red pill for someone to swallow given that he was previously denigrating whites for failing to empathize with blacks or acknowledging their “privilege.” Mind you, this same talking point Vance espoused in 2016 mirrored those made after Romney lost in 2012, where the Republican Party needs to cater to “diversity” or it will never again win presidential elections. Something reeks of pandering and word on the street is that Ohioans are not nose-blind.

Polling fourth in Ohio is GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken. Timken boasts the endorsements of Kristi Noem, Elise Stefanick on her website. Other endorsements she has locked down are Kellyanne Conway and outgoing Senator Portman himself. Something about female politicians receiving female endorsements…I am sure it is nothing—I am sure Maggie’s List looks beyond gender and vets their candidates before summarily endorsing them. More importantly, Timken rose to prominence off the co-tails of Mike DeWine, winner her chairmen seat by ousting a Kasich stooge. Early on in the pandemic, Timken uttered the praises of Governor Mike DeWine for his stay at home order and she peddled the “all in this together” narrative before eventually praising Trump’s vaccines and decrying the unemployment rate, which she perpetuated through support of lockdowns. Timken also praised Representative Anthony Gonzalez as having a “rational reason why he voted [to impeach Trump]. I think he’s an effective legislator, and he’s a very good person.” Few if any Ohio reps are worth their salt, and certainly not Gonzalez. Only after it was politically advantageous did she publicly lead the charge in censuring him for that very same vote. Expect Portman’s endorsement to propel her both in the polls and from a funding standpoint as she becomes the establishment’s preferred choice.

The last candidate who made the Trafalgar Group poll is Matt Dolan, current state representative and part owner of the Cleveland Guardians—the team formerly called the Indians that capitulated to the mob and changed its name. This same condemnation I have hinted at over the name change was shared by Donald Trump upon Doran’s candidacy announcement. Though he lacks strong endorsements like the others, he does have the largest war chest in the field. Moreover, Dolan seems to care more about US interests in Ukraine than most Americans, tweeting that “The world has seen this play before. Putin’s tirade and recognition of Russian-backed separatist republics inside Ukraine is a precursor to invasion. The U.S. and our allies must stand with Ukraine, reject this sham of Russian ‘peacekeepers’ and implement sanctions immediately.” Quite the Neoconservative he would make.

Trump and the Polls

The only key ingredient missing from this race is a Donald Trump endorsement, which doubtless would propel either one of these candidates to the top. Look for Timken to rise in the polls as she capitalizes off Portman’s endorsements. A WPA poll conducted on the local level had her polling second at 15% in January, 11 points behind Mandel. Mandel’s campaign boasts a similar lead in his own internal poll. Both WPA Intelligence polls have Bernie Moreno included, who has since dropped out of the race. Should his image fail to cultivate, Vance’s lagging support would likely shift over to Gibbons and Mandel.

Since Trafalgar shows 25% undecided, there is plenty of electorate to be swayed. 84.4% of those surveyed were 45 or older. If a candidate can make inroads with millennials or first-time voters, that could give them an unseen boost as that key TV demo, 18-45, is a small minority considered likely primary voters. Perhaps this is why the internal polling by WPA is showing Mandel in the upper 20’s.

Being young enough to remember first time primary experiences, someone who might be informed nationally might be unaware of the local candidates. This might be different between not researching prospective republican candidates in a Blue State, whereby one assumes they will lose, versus a Red State like Ohio. This might be where a Trump endorsement comes into play, possibly driving Millennial and Gen Z to vote for his preferred candidate.


It is a sad day in America when the guy with the (probable) sex scandal is likely the best option for voters, but such is the case in a RINO factory like Ohio. Mandel has a track record and has offended all the right people before. Apart from Mandel, I would prefer JD Vance over Gibbons, as Vance even if he is an inevitable disappointment has come out stronger than most on the right with regards to January 6. Keep in mind, that would make him more publicly in tune with the base than most incumbent Republican Senators, including Ted Cruz. His alliance with Greene lends some credibility to his authenticity, as the Dan Crenshaw types do not associate with her. Vance represents a high risk, high reward gambit. To me, Gibbons seems behind the times and squishy. He seems like the type who will buy into the left’s premises or play “protect the precious” on the right. The other two are RINO’s and are not worth consideration or your vote.

It is expected that Republicans can win this race, since it is an open race going into a favorable midterm cycle. Such a person could retain this seat until their death, which makes it critical to show up on May 3rd.ark

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