Vance records the second least support among the more than 80 Ohio U.S. Senate major party nominees during the primary era

As discussed a few months ago at Smart Politics, the unusually large – and competitive – Ohio Republican primary U.S. Senate field resulted Tuesday with a plurality win well shy of 40 percent by the Donald Trump-endorsed author J.D. Vance.

With four candidates in double-digits, Vance emerged as the nominee with the support of less than one-third of primary votes – 32.2 percent. Former Treasurer Josh Mandel finished with 23.9 percent followed by state Senator Matt Dolan (23.3 percent), and business executive Mike Gibbons  (11.7 percent).

Vance’s win marks the second lowest support for a major party U.S. Senate nominee in Ohio history across the 82 Democratic and Republican primaries held for the office since 1914.

The only candidate to emerge as a nominee with a lower percentage of the vote was former state Representative Kingsley Taft during the 1946 special election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Republican Harold Burton to take a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Taft won just 31.8 percent in a five-candidate field in which three other GOPers also reached double-digits: former congressman Dudley White (29.3 percent), author Tom Ireland (18.2 percent), and former state Representative Philip Ward (11.8 percent).

Tuesday’s contest marked the third time four Republican candidates received double-digit support in an Ohio U.S. Senate primary along with 1922’s contest won by Congressman Simeon Fess with 53.8 percent followed by former U.S. Senator Charles Dick (22.7 percent), former Lieutenant Governor John Arnold (12.7 percent), and Civil War veteran David Wood (10.8 percent).

Vance is only the seventh of the 82 Ohio U.S. Senate major party nominees to win a primary with less than 40 percent of the vote. In addition to Kingsley Taft, the remaining five are:

  • 1928: Democratic state Director of Agriculture Charles Truax with 35.7 percent
  • 1930 (special): Democratic attorney and former U.S. Representative Robert Bulkley with 38.1 percent
  • 1946: Appointed Democratic U.S. Senator James Huffman with 38.6 percent
  • 1950: Democratic Auditor Joseph Ferguson with 39.4 percent
  • 1962: Republican and Owens-Corning executive John Briley with 34.8 percent

Vance’s 8.3 point victory over Mandel is the first time a GOP nominee has won by single-digits in a U.S. Senate primary in more than half a century. Robert Taft, Jr. last did so in 1970 with a 0.6-point win against Governor Jim Rhodes.

With two qualified candidates withdrawing from the 2022 GOP race, the Republican ballot settled at seven, which is good for the second largest field in party history, trailing only the eight candidates in the 1926 GOP race won by incumbent Frank Wills.

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  1. John Chessant on May 4, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    Many observers noted yesterday that the turnout for the GOP Senate primary was more than twice that of the Democratic primary, where Rep. Tim Ryan easily defeated two other candidates. Interestingly, despite this (and despite both of Ryan’s challengers also receiving double-digit vote shares) Ryan still got more votes than Vance.

    • Flickertail-Pembina on May 4, 2022 at 11:42 pm

      The preliminary primary results are perhaps a favorable sign for Representative Ryan and his fellow Democrats, though the former detractor of “45” has since received the endorsements from Dolan and the departing Portman, neither of whom has had kind words for the newish breed of ‘populist nationalists’.

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