Much of the attention on the Ohio Republican gubernatorial primary has been focused on J.D. Vance and former President Donald Trump's endorsement of his candidacy.
But with just a few days to go before the May 3 primary, the GOP candidate experiencing a surge in the polls is the only one who hasn't made the journey to Mar-a-Lago to get in Trump's good graces: state Sen. Matt Dolan.
Politico reports that while Vance is leading the most recent Fox News poll, Dolan is gaining ground on Vance and in fact placed first in a different survey by Blueprint Polling, besting Vance 18 percent to 17 percent. That poll found no GOP candidate with support by more than 20 percent of Buckeye voters and more than a third are still undecided.
After Dolan's rise in the polls this week, Trump released a statement saying that the state senator is "not fit" to serve in the U.S. Senate and take over the seat of retiring Sen. Bob Portman.
The new polling suggests that Trump's status as Republican Party kingmaker is not as potent as the former president would have you believe.
Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist who lives out of state but donated $250 to Dolan’s campaign in October, said this about Dolan to Politico: “I think there’s mounting evidence that he’s in a scenario where he’s running up the middle, unmolested, with a unique message and some things in his favor. Does it mean he has a lock on the race? No way. But it’s a competitive race, and he’s in it. He’s got the momentum, as of last week.”
Dolan said in an interview, “When I made my decision to get into the race, I knew that it was going to be a tough slog, at least publicly, for a while. I knew that I would not be doing well in the polls until much, much later in the campaign. I think it’s playing out as I thought it was going to play out.”