All that’s missing is Trump himself.

“There are people up on the stage who are literally fighting for one vote, and that person doesn’t even vote in Ohio,” state Sen. Matt Dolan, the only one of seven Republican candidates who has not embraced Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, said at a recent debate in Wilberforce. The jockeying for a late, game-changing endorsement from Trump comes in part because polls show the primary is wide open with less than four weeks remaining before the May 3 primary, and with early voting having kicked off this week. Appeals to voters still loyal to the former President are on display in debates and candidates’ television ads. Venture capitalist and author J.D. Vance has aligned himself with far-right figures who emerged in Trump’s wake. He defended Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who recently spoke at a White nationalist gathering, saying in Wilberforce that he listened to her speech and “agreed with nearly every word that she said.”

“She said nothing wrong, and I’m absolutely not going to throw her under the bus, or anybody else who’s a friend of mine,” Vance said.

Former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken has frequently equated being hand-picked for that party job by Trump to an effective endorsement for this race. She has hired two of Trump’s former top political allies, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.

Self-funding financier Mike Gibbons and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel have also courted Trump aggressively. Gibbons has cast himself as a candidate in Trump’s mold — a former businessman with no real political background, and experience making money in systems that he’d now like to overhaul.

Mandel has focused on Gibbons’ business experience, accusing him at a debate in Cleveland last month of “making millions” on stock in a Chinese company.

“You’ve never been in the private sector in your entire life. You don’t know squat,” Gibbons said.

“Two tours in Iraq,” Mandel, who served in the Marine Corps Reserve, shot back, as he stood up and approached Gibbons and the two stood face to face. “Don’t tell me I haven’t worked.”It’s all unfolding without Trump weighing in publicly on the race. The former President has waded into other competitive Senate primaries, including in neighboring Pennsylvania, where he endorsed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz’s campaign on Saturday.

Mandel and Gibbons have led the pack in most polls. But Timken and Vance also have some support, and all four have flooded the airwaves with ads.

Dolan, meanwhile, is attempting to tap into the concerns of some Republicans that the race to appease Trump and court his most ardent supporters in the primary could ultimately damage the…

Source: Ohio GOP Senate primary remains all about Trump as candidates hope for late endorsement