In one of the earliest showcases for what a post-Trump GOP statewide primary might look like over the next couple of years, Ohio Senate candidates Jane Timken and Josh Mandel are already squabbling over who's more loyal to former President Donald Trump.
Timken kicked things off Monday when she called on Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), one of the ten House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump in January, to resign, arguing "President Trump is the leader of our party and we must have conservative leaders committed to the team."
Mandel, who has claimed to be Trump's "number one ally" in Ohio, followed that up with scathing criticism, accusing Timken of "flip-flopping" on Gonzalez. He cited Trump's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday which claimed "there is no room in the party for 'spineless establishment Republicans.'" Timken, Mandel said, "has proven herself just that," while he has consistently opposed Gonzalez's vote.
Mandel's comments may be one last desperate shot at getting Trump's approval, however — The Washington Post reported Sunday that Trump has already told Timken he'll endorse her, though her camp has not confirmed the news. Either way, the back-and-forth seems to line up with an earlier prediction from The Bulwark's Tim Miller that GOP primaries won't represent a battle between pro- and anti-Trump candidates. Instead, it's a battle for the right to own the "Trump lane," plain and simple.