The first round of primary elections before November’s midterm elections in the United States has offered glimpses of the direction in which the country’s two major parties are heading.
The polls in the states of Ohio and Indiana on Tuesday decided which candidates the Republican and Democratic parties will field in the upcoming midterms, which will determine the makeup of the US legislature.
In Ohio, the victory of JD Vance, a former investment banker and author of the popular book Hillbilly Elegy, showed former President Donald Trump still holds sway within the Republican Party.
Vance, who has self-styled his confrontational and populist approach in Trump’s image, was among a crowded field of candidates vying for the former reality TV star’s endorsement.
When the nod from Trump finally came through, Vance saw a late-stage surge in support that buoyed him to the Republican ticket. He will face incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Ryan in November.
Meanwhile, in the Cleveland area of the state, Democratic Representative Shontel Brown trounced former state Senator Nina Turner in the latest instance of a centrist Democratic beating a member of the party’s progressive flank.
Brown’s easy victory is emblematic of the progressives’ uneven track record in Democratic primaries. Despite a few high-profile upsets in recent years, including US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise victory in New York in 2018, a significant leftward lurch within the party has not materialised.
While Trump’s influence was clearly on display throughout the local and national races in Indiana and Ohio, particularly among candidates parroting his false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden, it did not take hold in every Republican race.
Despite incurring a barrage of Trump insults for imposing strict coronavirus restrictions in 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, cruised to victory in the primary. He will face Democrat Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton and first woman nominated by a major party for Ohio governor, in the general election later in the year.
Meanwhile, in Indiana, roughly two dozen so-called “liberty candidates” who sought to unseat more centrist Republicans in the state legislature they saw as too supportive of public health restrictions took only a few victories in Tuesday’s polls.
The next batch of midterm primaries will take place on May 10 in Nebraska and West Virginia.