Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election

Mike Carey, an energy lobbyist supported by former President Trump, won the crowded GOP primary race in a special House election in a deep-red Ohio district Tuesday.

The Associated Press called the race shortly after 9 p.m. ET. Carey led the pack with more than 37 percent of the vote, or just shy of 9,300 ballots.

State Sen. Bob Peterson, former state Rep. Ron Hood and state Rep. Jeff LaRe rounded out the top four.

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Carey was a virtual unknown before winning Trump’s support and campaigned largely on the former president’s backing. He bested a crowd of roughly a dozen other primary contenders to run for the seat that was vacated by former Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversRepublican holds 11-point lead in Ohio race to replace Stivers: poll Trump asks if Rand Paul has 'learned lesson' on endorsements Five takeaways from the Ohio special primaries MORE (R), who retired to run the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. 

The win is also a vindication for Trump, who first threw his support behind Carey for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District in June.

The former president suffered a setback last week when Susan Wright, his endorsed candidate in a special House runoff in Texas, lost to another Republican, raising questions over the lingering power of Trump’s endorsement now that he doesn’t hold office.

"Great Republican win for Mike Carey. Big numbers! Thank you to Ohio and all of our wonderful American patriots. Congratulations to Mike and his family. He will never let you down!" Trump said in a statement.

In recognition of the influence Trump's endorsement had in the race, Carey quickly touted Trump's role as the de facto leader of the GOP in a victory statement.

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"Tonight, Republicans across Ohio’s 15th Congressional District sent a clear message to the nation that President Donald J. Trump is, without a doubt, the leader of our party. I could not be more grateful for his support, and I am proud to deliver this win to advance his America First agenda," he said in a statement.

The breadth of the GOP primary field in the district splintered the Republican Party, with several contenders drawing high-profile backers.

While Carey was considered something of a front-runner with Trump’s backing, Hood, another conservative, won the support of Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulVaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations MORE’s (R-Ky.) political action committee, and Stivers had backed LaRe. Peterson had looked to bolster his bona fides by racking up more local endorsements from big names in the Columbus area. 

In a sign of how much of a priority Carey’s victory was for Trump, the former president’s political groups launched a $350,000 buy late last week on targeted text messages, digital and TV ads backing the lobbyist, indicating Trump was eager to avoid back-to-back losses.

Carey will be the overwhelming favorite to win the general election in November to replace Stivers, who won the seat last year by about 26 points. He will face state Rep. Allison Russo (D) in the general election.

“Congratulations to Mike Carey on his primary win. As a veteran, Mike will continue to serve our country and fight against Democrats’ socialist agenda that includes defunding the police, higher taxes, and spending sprees that are making everyday life more costly for Ohio families. I’m confident that Ohioans will reject this radicalism and send Mike Carey to Congress,” Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerDemocrats face grim political reality in midterms GOP's embrace of Trump's false claims creates new perils McAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington MORE (R-Minn.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.