Donald Trump left the White House last week, but this week he is in Florida setting up his “Office of the Former President,” where he is hoping to keep his Trump movement going as a potent force in American politics. What is setting up is a war between the Trump faction of the American right-wing and the more “establishment” or “moderate” Republican Party, typified now by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney.
One test of the movement is emerging in Ohio, because of the announcement by Republican Senator Rob Portman that he is not going to run for re-election in two years. This is setting up a coming Republican Primary battle for that seat between what will be a Trump candidate and a more moderate Republican, or group of them.
Politico reports that “the Republican primary could quickly become crowded and nasty, especially as the party works to rebuild itself and figure out the path forward in the wake of Trump’s defeat. A number of Republicans could be in the mix. Rep. Jim Jordan, a close Trump ally, has previously been eyed as a potential statewide candidate.”
Other potential candidates include Ohio Treasurer Johsh Mandel, Representative Steve Stivers, and rumors that Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance might make a go at running.
Meanwhile the New York Times reported that “Sarah Longwell, the executive director of the Republican Accountability Project, an anti-Trump group, said she and her colleagues planned to raise and spend $50 million to defend the 10 pro-impeachment House Republicans in primary contests and attack those who voted to object to the Electoral College results after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. She said the group would aim to defeat Mr. Jordan in an Ohio Senate primary if he runs against an establishment-minded Republican.”
Of course an open seat leaves a chance for Democrats to try to win another seat in Congress.
OHIO SENATE: Rob Portman’s surprise retirement gives Dems a critical opening they wouldn’t have had in 2022. Still, Ohio was Safe R with Portman, and TO START WITH, I’d lower it only to Likely R. Can’t ignore Ohio trends since 2016, plus midterm usually adds lift to out-party.— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) January 25, 2021
NEW: Rob Portman (R-OH) will not seek re-election to the Senate in 2022. Republicans are also vacating seats in the swing states of PA and NC.— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) January 25, 2021
The battle between the Trump movement and the rest of the Republican Party will be a key story for the next four years.