by Julie Carr Smith | The Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A pair of special congressional primaries on Tuesday in Ohio could serve as a litmus test for the mood of the Republican and Democratic parties in next year’s midterm elections.
After a hard-fought defeat for one of his supported congressional candidates in Texas last week, former President Donald Trump’s as kingmaker among Republicans is being tested in central Ohio’s 15th congressional district.
He has endorsed coal lobbyist Mike Carey from a formidable field of 11 GOP primary contenders for the seat vacated by Republican Steve Stewart in May. Stivers has endorsed one of three incumbent lawmakers in the race — State Representative Jeff Lare — for the job.
In the Cleveland area, progressive and Democratic centrists are in fierce competition for the 11th Congressional District seat, previously held by Democrat, Rep. Marcia Fudge, who was appointed as President Joe Biden’s head of housing in March.
Former State Sen. Nina Turner, a prominent national voice for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns, 13 Democrats running in the primaries, and Sanders, Rep. Alexandria is best known among the likes of Ocasio-Cortez and others.
Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, a centrist backed by Hillary Clinton, influential House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the Congressional Black Caucus, several major unions and more than 100 local leaders enjoyed a surge in national support in July.
The race comes at a crucial moment for the Progressive Movement. The centrist has been ascendant in the early months of the Joe Biden era, while the party’s left has suffered a series of defeats—in the race for New York City’s mayor, a Virginia gubernatorial primary, and the Louisiana House race.
Meanwhile, a section of moderates is concerned that a left-wing drift could damage the party’s seats in the mid-term next year. Biden did not heed the left’s calls for more aggressive action on some issues, including voting rights and immigration.
This is why progressive leaders are searching for new strategies that can increase its impact.
Turner will add another voice to those efforts, joining Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and a section of young, relatively new lawmakers who have made it their mission to push the Democratic leadership to the left.
But Turner’s history of criticism from fellow Democrats undoubtedly haunts her party’s founding — she once likened her support to Biden to being forced to eat excrement — and to Brown for campaigning against the campaign trail. Gave something
For Republicans, the Columbus-area race emerged as a test of Trump’s influence, especially after the former president endorsed a loser in the Texas primary last week. As president, Trump claimed his influence over the political fortunes of politicians, with a strong record of endorsement winners. Ever since he stepped down, candidates have scrambled to get his support, even at times lined up for reality-show style interviews.
But it’s not clear whether GOP voters are looking for his seal of approval.
All the candidates in the GOP primary billed themselves as conservatives and many Trump-backed candidates can boast of more legislative-branch experience than Kerry.
State Sen. Stephanie Kunz has spent nearly nine years in the Ohio House and Senate, supporting legislation to combat opium addiction, infant mortality, and sexual violence. She won the GOP’s endorsement and value in electing women’s PACs in the district’s largest county, Franklin.
Sen. Bob Peterson has been a state legislator since 2012. A farmer and former president of the Ohio Farm Bureau, he is supported by the Ohio Right to Life and the powerful political arm of former Senate President Larry Oboe.
On the Democratic side, state Representative Allison Russo, a health policy adviser, faces Greg Bates, a former Army officer and decorated combat veteran, for the nomination.
Back in the 11th District, Laverne Gore encounters Felicia Ross, a business owner, consultant, trainer, and community activist, a self-described “Jane of all trades” in the Republican primary. The winners of the August primary will face off against the November 2 general election.