IN+OH Primaries: Black Women, Dem Moderates and Trump Win Big(ly)
Ohio and Indiana held their midterm primaries on Tuesday May 3, 2022.
Whew, there’s a LOT going on right now. If you’ve been distracted by the historic SCOTUS leak, I don’t blame you. I know I wasn’t alone in channelling that Jackie Chan gif energy. Since the media has been completely consumed by that news, it’s more important than ever that we dive into the results of the recent Indiana and Ohio primaries. These elections have given us a wealth of information about midwestern voters that’s currently being glossed over entirely. My Top 3 takeaways are listed below alongside lists of the various primary winners.
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Senate and Gubernatorial Winners
1. A deep slate of Black women candidates emerge from the Ohio+Indiana House primaries.
Starting in Ohio, Democrats nominated five black women across their 15 US House races in November:
The most newsworthy win is that of Shontel Brown in Cleveland. Endorsements from the establishment wing of the party helped her beat out her progressive challenger, Nina Turner.
The current chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Joyce Beatty, saw no primary challengers and is widely expected to be re-elected in November as her district, OH-3, supported Pres. Biden by more than 40 points in 2020.
Emilia Sykes previously served as Ohio’s state House minority leader from 2019 to 2021 and she sailed through to the general election in an uncontested primary in the open seat for OH-13.
Two-time Democratic House candidate Vanessa Enoch is hoping that the third time’s the charm. She’s running in Ohio’s new OH-8 and is expecting to see an uphill battle as the district supported Trump by a margin of 22 points in 2020.
Last but not least, Tamie Wilson has emerged as the Democratic challenger to the infamous Rep. Jim Jordan in OH-4. Wilson identifies as a “biracial, mompreneur” whose 5-point plan includes a commitment to lifting up women, minorities and the working class.
Meanwhile Indiana voters nominated two black women:
Like Enoch in Ohio, Jeannine Lee Lake won the Democratic nomination for the third time in a row. Redistricting has shifted her into IN-5 to challenge incumbent Victoria Spartz for the first time. (Her last two elections she ran in IN-6 against against incumbent Rep. Greg Pence in IN-6.)
Jennifer Ruth-Green stands out as a rare Black Republican woman who forcefully backs Donald Trump and the Republican party. She’ll be facing off against Democratic incumbent Frank Mrvan in IN-1.
Indiana’s US House Primary Winners
2. Progressives Fall to Midwestern Moderates
The progressive wing of the Democratic party had a tough night on Tuesday. While stars like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have mobilized millions across the internet, progressives still have a tough time translating that enthusiasm into votes where it counts. While Ohio and Indiana certainly aren’t bastions of liberalism, several formidable progressive opponents failed to beat their more moderate, establishment-molded challengers.
Nina Turner, who received endorsements from both Sanders and AOC, lost her rematch against Shontel Brown.
Progressive challenger Morgan Harper struggled to gain support against Rep. Tim Ryan who easily won the Democratic nomination for Ohio’s US Senate seat.
One small victory for progressives: they’re continuing to move the Overton window as moderate Democrats are slowly embracing more progressive ideals. Ryan, Brown, and even Ohio’s Democratic nominee for governor Nan Whaley, all supported raising their state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. They also all gave full throated support for abortion rights in the wake of the recent Supreme Court news.
Ohio’s US House Primary Winners
3. Trump makes headlines for endorsing unopposed candidates.
Like I said before, don’t get too distracted by Trump’s endorsements. Trump endorsed a total of 22 candidates between Ohio and Indiana’s primaries and 10 of them were running unopposed, meaning they didn’t face a single challenger. Please take a second to swallow the games this man is playing with the media: he started the day with a 50% win rate before a single vote was cast.
If you’ve been paying any attention to politics over the past year, it’s plainly obvious that Trump still has major influence over the Republican party. Looking at Trump’s endorsements as a proxy for his power within the Republican party is missing the forest for the trees.
Lets keep our focus on the candidates themselves as Republican voters didn’t seem to universally accept those who followed the “MAGA Playbook.” According to research from the Brookings Institute, Indiana saw more mainstream conservative candidates win their races over “Trump conservatives,” signalling that Indiana’s political environment may be less hospitable to Trump’s brand. Meanwhile the opposite seems to be true in Ohio: Trump conservatives were more successful than their more moderate counterparts.