COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Republican Party has endorsed ex-President Donald Trump’s 2024 bid to return to the White House.
The state GOP’s central committee voted Friday at their quarterly meeting to endorse Trump, making Ohio the first of any state Republican party to endorse in the race. The state GOP voted both to endorse in the presidential election, despite past calls from some insurgent members to halt the practice of endorsing in any race, and then to endorse Trump without any major opposition.
He got a single “no” vote.
“We want to send the signal that the nominating process needs to end and we need to unite,” said Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, following the vote. “Our focus needs to be on defeating a failed president, Joe Biden.”
“We are in a situation as a country where if we do not succeed in 2024 in winning back the White House we will spend decades trying to recover from the damages done to this country,” said committee member Tony Schroeder, the chairman of the Putnam County Republican Party in Western Ohio.
The move shows the tight control Trump continues to hold over the Republican Party despite losing the 2020 election and facing various looming criminal prosecutions. There’s yet to be a single vote in the ongoing Republican primary, featuring multiple candidates including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, but Trump holds a commanding lead in various polls and seems to be on the path to cruise to the GOP nomination. Trump’s political team has been pushing for the move, contacting individual committee members individually to lobby for their vote.
Bob Paduchik, a former Ohio Republican Party chairman who ran Trump’s winning 2016 and 2020 Ohio campaigns, attended the meeting and spoke with Trump on the phone following the meeting to inform him of the endorsement.
“He was very pleased,” Paduchik said.
Individual committee members were effusive in their praise of the former president, saying he presided over a strong economy and a a period of international peace. One committee member praised his handling of the “China virus” pandemic, a term the former president used for the coronavirus pandemic that Asian-American groups have said is offensive and which public-health officials have discouraged.
Ohio’s primary election will be held on March 19. The candidate filing for Trump and other candidates is Dec. 20.
The party issued no other primary election endorsements on Friday, including in the heated Republican Party for U.S. Senate between state Sen. Matt Dolan, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno, or various contested state legislative races in what was its final scheduled meeting before the March election.