Trump Gets His Hillbilly Senator
Plus: Two cheers for Larry Hogan
In today’s Morning Shots:
Hangover from Ohio (Our hot takes)
More Post-Roe questions: What now for privacy?
The GOP turns defensive on making abortion illegal
Two cheers for Larry Hogan
Ronjon has thoughts about vaccines and AIDS
Tim Miller has some thoughts about last night’s Dem/rep primary elections in Ohio:
The primary electorates are not the same:
Last night in Ohio, Shontel Brown, a mainstream Jim Clyburn Democrat absolutely destroyed far left Berniestan Nina Turner in a house primary for the second time in a year. And Tim Ryan an old-school Bill Clinton-style Democrat annihilated the preferred candidate of the far-left Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
On the same night a group of zombie cultists acting on the wishes of their sociopathic leader powered a come back victory for J.D. Vance who recently pivoted from being a Never Trump reformicon to supporting literal authoritarian nationalism that would abandon the people in Ukraine, shred our democratic rule of law, and make Donald Trump an unelected autocrat.
That same group nominated Max Miller to Congress, a completely unqualified Trump flunky who was accused of physical abuse by Trump’s former Press Secretary. This might’ve been seen as a feature not a bug in his candidacy.
That’s where things stand. Choose your fighter.
Here’s Amanda Carpenter’s take:
As predicted but not celebrated by the Bulwark crowd, Vance won his primary. His win helps reinforce a few things we’ve long suspected, though.
One: Trump’s endorsement matters.
And Vance, despite being a NeverTrumper in the past, played the long game and did all the things necessary to get it.
Unlike so many other thirsty-for-Trump candidates, Vance didn’t just go to kiss Trump’s ring and wait for Trump to pull him out of fourth place.
Here’s what else Vance did, per Politico’s excellent recap this morning: Vance made besties with Don Jr.,; just happened to appear at the links of Mar-a-Lago, positioning himself to, totally by happenstance, showcase his “beautiful” golf swing to Trump; became a staple on Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson’s programs; stumped with MTG and Matt Gaetz. And, most important, milked $15 million from Peter Thiel to his Super PAC to run big-time back-door-operations for his teeny-tiny campaign.
But what put Vance over the top?
While Trump was aware of Vance’s past condemnations, he was hearing from allies including Carlson and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley who encouraged him to get behind the candidate. And he had recently seen Vance playing golf at Mar-a-Lago, where he complimented the candidate on his swing and his personal appearance. But for the TV-obsessed Trump, it was Vance’s performance in the debates that led the former president to endorse his onetime critic.
This draws an important through-line from Trump’s off-the-wall endorsement of Dr. Oz to his infatuation with Herschel Walker straight to Vance. Take away their “Stop the Steal” warts—which are an attractive feature for most GOP primary voters—and they’re all made-for-TV.
They know how to play the public image game. Once they are all in on Trump, Trump doesn’t need to know much more than that.
Neither does anyone else, apparently.
A heartbeat after Vance’s win was declared, his primary opponents and members of the Republican establishment fell in line. The retiring Sen. Rob Portman, whose seat Vance may soon occupy, called Vance and tweeted, “I offered my support & look forward to helping keep this seat Republican.”
The supposed “anti-Trump” candidate in the race, Matt Dolan said: “JD Vance and I have debated our differences, and in this hard fought campaign he was successful. Just as I will never quit fighting for Ohio, I now pledge to unite our party and endorse JD Vance to be our next U.S. Senator.”
If Vance had lost, Trump might have been mocked mercilessly for the weakness of his endorsement. He might have started to look toothless. Stories would have followed about his weakening grasp on the GOP.
But Trump’s endorsement was decisive: J.D. Vance (not J.P. Mandel) exited the bowels of the polls to win. Before Trump’s nod, Vance had been in third place, polling around 10 percent. He won with what looks like 32 percent. And that’s 100 percent thanks to Trump.
So much for the Republican party moving on.
Here’s Sarah Longwell: