Early May saw the first round of primary elections, in Ohio and Indiana. Political experts are looking at the outcome of these races to help them determine how things might go in the critical 2022 midterm elections. In both states, primary voters seemed to lean away from more extreme candidates and toward more moderate ones. But will this trend hold as primary season continues? And what other factors are at play? Here, Election Central takes a closer look.
Both Democrat and Republican candidates have spent millions of dollars campaigning to represent their party in the race to fill an open Senate seat in Ohio. Democrat Tim Ryan–a ten-term representative from Youngstown–won easily. He was the endorsed candidate for the Democratic Party. He will campaign against Republican J.D. Vance. Vance wrote the book Hillbilly Elegy, which examines his childhood growing up in impoverished areas of Appalachia. Vance is now a venture capitalist who helps businesses invest. Vance won with 32 percent of the Republican primary vote amongst many challengers. Vance was falling behind in the polls until mid-April, when he received the endorsement of former president Donald Trump. Trump’s nod of approval seems to be what pushed Vance into the lead.
In the Ohio governor’s race, Republican incumbent Mike DeWine won easily. This is despite those who criticized DeWine’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, party-endorsed former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley easily won the Democratic nomination. Whaley and Tim Ryan shared similar bipartisan messaging during their campaigns. No Democrat has held statewide non-judicial office in Ohio since 2008. Ryan and Whaley both emphasized that it’s time for Ohioans to heal from past political divisions and unify to build a stronger state.
The more moderate candidate was also favored by voters in the Cleveland area’s 11th congressional district. The voters chose Shontel Brown over her progressive challenger, former state senator Nina Turner. Brown was endorsed and supported by President Joe Biden and other major Democratic groups.
Indiana’s 9th congressional district saw a nine-way race for the Republican nomination. The winner was Erin Houchin, a former Indiana state senator. Like Ohio’s Governor DeWine, Houchin represents the more experienced wing of the GOP. At the same time, Greg Pence (older brother of former Vice President Mike Pence) was re-elected to his House seat in Indiana’s 6th Congressional district. Pence is another candidate firmly endorsed by Trump. The success that Vance had in Ohio along with Pence’s win suggests the continuing influence the former president has over many Republican voters.
Nebraska and West Virginia both held their primaries on Tuesday May 10, 2022. In both states, Trump has weighed in on his preferred candidate. In the Nebraska governor’s race, Trump has supported Charles Herbster. However, Herbster has been publicly accused of several instances of sexual misconduct. Trump spoke in favor of Herbster a week before the primary vote, but in this case, it did not sway the voters. Jim Pillen received his own endorsement from Nebraska’s Republican governor and Pillen won the primary.
In West Virginia, Trump also endorsed Representative Alex Mooney, who also received support from other key Republican groups. Mooney was being challenged by David McKinley, also a West Virginia congressional representative. McKinley was supported by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and even Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. But Mooney won 54 percent of the votes to McKinley’s 35 percent.
The next round of primaries is on May 17, 2022, when Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Idaho, and Pennsylvania go to the polls.