Ohio GOP congressional primary is a roller coaster for voters, Republicans.

Columbus — Republican congressional primary beats Cedar Point's thrill rides.Republican J.R. Majewski announced his “(almost) resignation” from the high-stakes northwest Ohio contest this week, the latest twist in the GOP's desperate bid to defeat Congress' longest-serving woman.

GOP contenders for Ohio's 9th Congressional District have left and entered the field since last year, gaffes have embarrassed candidates, endorsements have moved, and U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, pro-Trump Rep. Jim Jordan, and Sen. JD Vance are endorsing three rival campaignsRep. Marcy Kaptur, 77, is one of the most vulnerable Democrats as House power hangs in the balance.

A Trump-aligned “America First” candidate, Majewski, 44, was his party's unexpected choice to fight Kaptur in 2022's midterm elections after her slightly Democratic district was redrawn to favor Republicans. In November, Majewski lost by 13 points to Kaptur as a political novice with military misgivings.

Republican leaders like Jim Jordan supported former three-term state Rep. Craig Riedel in 2024 to prevent a Kaptur-Majewski rematch. The Jordanian caucus won the House 219-213 in 2022 with three vacancies.The 57-year-old Riedel, who also ran in 2022, used the tortoise's approach to the March 19 primary, entering early, methodically building support, and raising more money than Majewski or Kaptur.

Riedel's December critique of former President Donald Trump might devastate a state that twice voted for him and still does. Riedel declined to endorse Trump, calling him “arrogant”.Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik and Trump Senate nominee Bernie Moreno revoked Riedel endorsements. After Riedel's comments, Vance, who won the Senate with Trump support last cycle, praised Majewski.

Republicans were still divided, so a mad scramble to identify a mainstream Majewski alternative began. On the candidate registration deadline, GOP state Rep. Derek Merrin entered.Last year, term-limited fourth-term state politician Merrin, 37, led an intraparty rebellion in the Ohio House after losing a tough speaker election. Merrin and Riedel might split the GOP establishment vote again, as they did in 2022 with state Sen. Theresa Gavarone.

Merrin has Speaker Johnson's endorsement, and AdImpact claims that the Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $497,000 on his campaign.Kaptur had $1.3 million, Riedel $542,000, and Majewski $123,000 at the previous filing date, according to Federal Election Commission data.

His campaign spokeswoman said Riedel is well-known in the constituency, has spent weeks on early TV advertising, and continues to knock on doors and raise money. Merrin said his conservative Statehouse background gave him the best chance of defeating Kaptur.

These men may be more conservative than Majewski on abortion, a crucial 2024 issue. Merrin and Riedel co-sponsored a 2019 abortion-criminalization bill that would carry a 15-to-life sentence. At a campaign forum, Majewski said he is “pro-life, 100%, without exception,” but “also a realist” because Ohio voters overwhelmingly supported abortion rights last November.

Majewski appeared to be strengthening his conservative camp with Rep. Matt Gaetz, Gen. Michael Flynn, and former 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy until the race changed.Podcaster Majewski criticized Democrats and Special Olympics athletes. He said on X, formerly Twitter, that he wanted to withdraw the podcast to spare the feelings of those he insulted, but it was too late.

Riedel backer Republican State Rep. Gary Click urged Majewski to withdraw. Toledo's Lucas County GOP criticized Majewski and demanded his resignation.Announcing his “(almost) resignation” after Politico revealed that he was considering quitting, Majewski accused “the swamp and their unquestioning allies in the media” of stifling “free and independent America First voices.”

He stayed because his family “decided that there is no mission more important than continuing this race and standing strong for the patriots I committed to fight for.”Despite the race's ups and downs, Steve Lankenau, 61, a former small town mayor and businessman with a master's from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, is running fourth.

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