ATHENS, Ohio—In the leadup to Easter Sunday, storms brewed across the Buckeye State. With early voting underway, the candidates in Ohio’s crowded GOP primary for the open U.S. Senate seat dodged tornado warnings in southwest Ohio and streaking rain showers in the northeast as they fanned across the state to make final pitches to voters.
Other storm clouds hung over the campaign trail: rumors that former President Donald Trump would end his months of neutrality and give Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance his highly coveted endorsement.
Jane Timken, the former Republican state party chairwoman who had been jostling with Vance for third place in polling the last few weeks, sported a somewhat forced brightness at a Thursday meet-and-greet with sponsors in the college town of Athens.
She had been on the phone with Trump that week, but her campaign was close-lipped about details. Reporting from NBC News filled those in: Both Timken and former state treasurer Josh Mandel were trying to get him to hold off on weighing in for Vance.