And few states, in the Midwest or past, have the symbolic resonance of Ohio, which for many years served as a political bellwether and swing-state proving floor. Now, nevertheless, even the most optimistic Ohio Democrats acknowledge that they reside in a Republican-leaning state and should take classes on methods to compete from their ideological counterparts in different precincts of red-state America.
“We should look at how Democrats won in Montana and Kansas,” mentioned Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, who’s planning a run for governor subsequent yr. “That’s a new place for us to look because we’ve always been a battleground, but national messages don’t fit right into Ohio.”
One of the most consequential questions for Ohio Democrats is out of their arms: What course will Republicans take in the Biden period? “Where they land is going to be a big deal,” Ms. Whaley mentioned.
Had Mr. Portman run for re-election, this could have been a far much less weighty query in Ohio. He and Gov. Mike DeWine, one other establishment-aligned and well-known incumbent, would have campaigned on their very own political manufacturers, by no means confronting Mr. Trump but additionally by no means embracing him, both.
Now, although, the open Senate seat is thrusting the loyalty-obsessed former president to the forefront of his social gathering’s nascent main, as the introduced candidates compete to see who can hug Mr. Trump tightest.
Josh Mandel, a former state treasurer who twice ran in opposition to Mr. Brown earlier than withdrawing from the 2018 race and disappearing from public view, has resurfaced as an ardent MAGA man. In interviews and tweets since coming into the race to succeed Mr. Portman, he has claimed that Mr. Trump’s second impeachment prompted him to run — by no means thoughts his earlier two bids — and vowed to advance Mr. Trump’s “America First Agenda.”
Perhaps extra hanging, although, is the maneuvering by Jane Timken, a rich government who was elevated to the chair of the Ohio Republican Party in 2017 in half as a result of Mr. Trump took the extraordinary step as president-elect to make calls to social gathering activists on her behalf.