Donald Trump had to be talked out of making an early endorsement in Ohio's 2022 U.S. Senate race, a sign of his eagerness to reengage politically, people familiar with the conversations tell Axios.
What we're hearing: The former president discussed endorsing former state GOP chair Jane Timken last week during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, but top advisers — including Donald Trump Jr. — urged him to wait.
- “It’s way too early to make endorsement decisions in many of the races, particularly when primaries are more than a year away," Trump adviser Jason Miller told Axios.
- Endorsements will come only after candidate establish their campaigns and are vetted by the Trump operation, including filling out a questionnaire that will "help ensure all endorsees are conservative America First Republicans," Miller said.
- Trump's endorsement, which is highly coveted by Republicans across the country, could be the deciding factor for the Ohio GOP, a state party that's veered away from traditional John Kasich conservatism toward a full-on embrace of Trumpism.
Between the lines: During their meeting, Trump asked McDaniel what she thought about Timken, who recently resigned as state party chair. He also wondered whether McDaniel thought Timken is "loyal" to him, two sources familiar with their conversation said.
- McDaniel spoke positively about Timken and her chances of succeeding Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the sources said, despite it being against the RNC's bylaws for the chairwoman to get involved in primary campaigns.
- “Chairwoman McDaniel is good friends with Jane Timken and thinks highly of her. But, Chairwoman McDaniel did not make any recommendations on endorsements to President Trump and remains neutral in the primary,” RNC spokesperson Mike Reed said.
- Trump later spoke with Timken and discussed the race.
- Timken's name originally came up while Trump and McDaniel were discussing Bob Paduchik's run for chair of the Ohio GOP. The Trump-backed candidate was named to the position Friday.
Later in the week, Trump huddled with his top political team, including Don Jr., former campaign managers Bill Stepien and Brad Parscale, former social media director Dan Scavino, former deputy campaign manager Justin Clark and Miller, as Politico first reported.
- While the team was discussing a number of races, the younger Trump said his father should not be endorsing in Ohio so early, one person familiar with the meeting told Axios.
- Don Jr. said there were too many unknowns in the race right now, and added there are multiple candidates who are running, or thinking about running, who are pro-Trump.
Be smart: Donald Trump has already made several endorsements ahead of the 2022 elections, including Paduchik, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) for reelection and his former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a candidate for governor of Arkansas.