In the Ohio GOP primary, both Rep. Jim Renacci and businessman Mike Gibbons campaigned as the ultimate outsider candidate. Trump-backed Renacci focused on his disgust with Washington status quo. Trump won Ohio in 2016 by a much smaller margin than West Virginia or Indiana, and many say Trump’s endorsement of Renacci, who will run against Sen. Sherrod Brown in the general election, was a key factor in his win.
In North Carolina, GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger became the first incumbent to lose in the 2018 primary cycle. Former Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church beat Pittenger with his “drain the swamp” message, running against the GOP-controlled Congress as much as against Pittenger. Harris now prepares for a competitive general election race against Iraq War veteran Dan McCready.
The Democrats’ anticipated Blue Wave was downgraded as voters backed strong candidates who can enable the GOP to hold and potentially expand its majority in the crucial midterm elections. As a footnote, it goes without saying that in this crazy world of politics, even losers win; at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Blankenship’s parole ended. He said he plans to head to a luxury resort to relax and play blackjack. The winning candidates are off to the races in November.