Mike Carey And Allison Russo Win Nominations In Ohio 15th Congressional Primary Races

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mike Carey, a coal lobbyist backed by former President Donald Trump, beat a bevy of Republicans in central Ohio in Tuesday’s primary elections for the open 15th Congressional House seat.

Mike Carey and Allison Russo
Mike Carey (left) and Allison Russo (right) will face off in the race for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District [Mike Carey Campaign | Ohio House | Pic Stitch by WOSU]

The special election was viewed as a measure of voters’ influences, though low turnout and huge candidate fields complicated interpreting the results too broadly and party leaders showed they still held sway.

Carey’s race reinforced Trump’s status as GOP kingmaker, particularly after the former president’s preferred candidate lost a special election in Texas last week.

The political newcomer Carey defeated a crowd of other Republican candidates in his Columbus-area race, including some with establishment backing and experience in state politics.

He’ll take on Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo, a health policy consultant who won the Democratic nomination, in the GOP-leaning 15th Congressional District this fall.

Trump quickly celebrated Carey’s win Tuesday in a statement.

”Thank you to Ohio and all of our wonderful American patriots,” he said. “Congratulations to Mike and his family. He will never let you down!”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown tweeted congratulations to Russo, pledging to”get to work to elect a champion for Ohio working families this November.”

The GOP result was a blow to former U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, a moderate Republican who retired from the seat in May and endorsed state Rep. Jeff LaRe, a security executive with law enforcement experience, in the race.

But Stivers pledged he’d support Carey this fall and LaRe called for Republican to “all work together to keep central Ohio red for decades to come.”

Tuesday’s results come as recent polling shows Democrats are generally upbeat about their party’s future and the job Biden is doing, while the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll reflected widespread unease among Republicans over everything from the direction of the country to the state of American democracy and Biden’s performance. Most want Trump to have at least some influence over their party’s future direction.

All of the candidates in the Columbus-area GOP primary billed themselves as conservatives and many boasted more legislative-branch experience than Carey, including LaRe, state Sens. Bob Peterson and Stephanie Kunze and former state Rep. Ron Hood. In the end, they divided the vote and left Carey with only about 37% of the vote to win.