Trump plays kingmaker in Ohio

In this June 1, 2021 photo, Mike Carey, speaks at the kick-off of his 15th Congressional District campaign in Grove City, Ohio. Former President Donald Trump has backed Carey, a longtime coal lobbyist, as one of the candidates in the crowded Republican primary for an open U.S. House seat in central Ohio. (Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch via AP, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mike Carey, an energy executive backed by former President Donald Trump, beat a bevy of Republicans in central Ohio, to win the Republican primary in Ohio’s open House District 15.

Carey’s race reinforced Trump’s status as GOP kingmaker, after the former president’s preferred candidate lost a special election in Texas last week. Trump had endorsed Susan Wright (R-Tex.) in the July 27, 2021, special runoff election to fill the vacancy in Texas’ 6th Congressional District. The run-off pitted two Republican candidates which insured the GOP would maintain the seat. The winner, Jake Ellzey received 53% of the vote to Wright’s 47%.

Following the Texas result, Trump congratulated Ellzey calling his win “a great victory” labelling Ellzey a patriot. “My endorsed candidate won in the Primary, but the other outstanding candidate won the General Election because virtually 100% of Democrats, approximately 17% of the total vote, supported the candidate I did not endorse,” said Trump in a statement. “I won because we ended up with a great Republican candidate—the Democrats never had a chance.”

Mike Carey

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 Republicans to “all work together to keep central Ohio red for decades to come.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.