Trump’s sway looms in Ohio’s closely watched US House races

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A voter casts a ballot at a polling station during the 2022 U.S. midterm election in Kettering, Ohio, U.S., November 8, 2022.

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A race pitting the longest-serving woman in U.S. House history and a Republican newcomer whose campaign was knocked off track by reports that he misrepresented his military service will test the limits of former President Donald Trump’s influence over Ohio voters.

That’s not the only race in Ohio’s congressional elections in which Trump’s sway is front and center.

A pair of Republicans endorsed by the ex-president — including one of his former aides — are seeking to win open seats in redrawn districts created during a lengthy and contentious redistricting of the congressional maps that still hasn’t been fully settled.

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, a fiery conservative who’s one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, won a ninth term.

Republicans also are hoping to end the four-decade career of Democrat Marcy Kaptur after redistricting put her in a reconfigured congressional district that’s considered a political toss-up.

She is being challenged by Republican J.R. Majewski, a first-time candidate who turned his yard into a giant Trump sign in 2020 and has since capitalized on his support from the ex-president.

But Majewski has been forced to defend himself since The Associated Press reported in September that he had misrepresented key elements of his Air Force service, including his story of being a combat veteran who served a tour of duty under “tough” circumstances in Afghanistan.

He denied lying about his record and said he proudly served his country. But the National Republican Campaign Committee canceled TV ads it had booked to support his campaign.

While Republicans are almost guaranteed of retaining the majority of Ohio’s congressional seats, Democrats are hoping to pick off at least one GOP incumbent.

They’re targeting longtime Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who is seeking a 14th term in Congress despite facing a steady stream of legitimate challengers in past elections.

Chabot is up against Cincinnati City Council member Greg Landsman in a district that was one of 14 U.S. House seats nationwide held by Republicans, but that President Joe Biden would have won under new congressional maps. Democrats were looking to take at least a handful of those Republican-held seats that voted for Biden to negate losses elsewhere around the country.

Former Trump administration official Max Miller, who served as both a campaign and White House aide, is running for a House seat in northeast Ohio.

Miller initially was recruited to challenge Rep. Anthony Gonzalez after he voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Gonzalez decided before the primary to leave Congress after this term.

Redrawn congressional maps eventually put Miller in a district with Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs, who suddenly decided to retire this year.

Conservative commentator Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who worked on Trump’s 2016 inauguration committee and helped lead Women for Trump during his reelection bid, is up against state Rep. Emilia Sykes, a former Ohio House Democratic leader and the daughter of a powerful political family in northeast Ohio.

They’re vying for a seat left vacant when Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan decided to run for U.S. Senate this year.