The first multistate race of the 2022 U.S. midterm election season kicks off Tuesday, with Ohio voters picking candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate, while Indiana voters consider whether their legislature should become more conservative.

Those races, especially in Ohio, could provide a new window into the influence of former President Donald Trump among partisan loyalists. He has been particularly involved in the Ohio Senate primary, which has been affected by Republican divisions, as well as in the U.S. House and Secretary of State campaigns.

For Democrats, the potential threat to Cleveland’s incumbent U.S. Rep. Shorter Brown is of great interest. Brown will have a rematch against progressive challenger Nina Turner, a former state senator and ally of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Turner tried again after losing to Brown in last year’s special election.

What to watch as the Ohio and Indiana primaries unfold:

Republican Senate candidate JD Vance has the backing of former President Donald Trump [Joe Maiorana/AP Photo]

Who will survive Ohio’s nasty Senate primary?

Seven candidates are voting for the coveted open seat of retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman in Tuesday’s Republican matchup. They are Trump-endorsed author JD Vance, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons, former Ohio Republican chair Jane Timken, state Senator Matt Dow Lan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, as well as entrepreneurs Mark Pukita and Neil Patel.

The campaign has included months of battles between major Trump-backed contenders, more than $65 million in TV and radio spending, dozens of debates and candidate forums, and a well-publicized body-on-the-ground between the two candidates confrontation.

Whoever wins will face a three-way Democratic primary winner between 10-term U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, former consumer protection lawyer Morgan Harper and Columbus activist and tech executive Tracy Johnson.

U.S. Senate Republican nominee Mike Gibbons responds during the U.S. Senate Republican primary debate in Ohio.
Ohio U.S. Senate Republican nominee Mike Gibbons could be a spoiler for Trump’s plans in Ohio [Joshua A Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP pool]

Is Trump’s endorsement an Ohio State slam dunk?

Trump twice won Ohio by more than 8 percentage points, so many see his nod in the Senate race as crucial to winning the crowded Senate primary. Instead, when he finally chose Vance, it divided the country.

That’s because Vance’s opponents, including Mandel, Gibbons and their allies, have been running ads for months highlighting Vance’s past anti-Trump statements. Some Tea Party Republicans protested the April 23 Trump rally, including Vance, a conservative group Ohio Value Voters urging its supporters to boycott — or boo — when Vance takes office — Vance. The deep-pocketed Growth Club, a conservative group that supports Mandel, has run ads on television that directly attack Trump’s choice.

Trump also supported candidates in two Republican congressional primaries: Max Miller, his former White House and campaign aides, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Former Dayton Mayor South Willie, who is running for Ohio governor, speaks to reporters after a debate with Democrat John Cranley at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio
Former Dayton Mayor South Wiley, who is running for Ohio governor, speaks to reporters after a debate with John Cranley at Central State University in March [Aaron Doster/AP Photo]

Will a woman break through in Ohio’s gubernatorial race?

Democrat Nancy Wiley is seeking to become Ohio’s first woman to receive a major party governor’s nomination. The former Dayton mayor is in fierce competition with former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who has the backing of feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

They agree on most of the big issues — guns, abortion rights, social justice — but Whaley has repeatedly pointed out that Cranley has only recently expressed his support for abortion rights. She has the support of the top Democrat in the state, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

Will confusion in Ohio’s primary calendar affect results?

The protracted battle over Ohio’s congressional and legislative map has wreaked havoc on the state’s 2022 election calendar. For a long time, amid all the legal wrangling, the May 3 primaries seemed impossible to proceed. Then suddenly it happened.

Voter advocates, campaigns and political parties have stepped up their advocacy, as participation in early voting is down 40 percent from four years ago.

Is Indiana’s Legislature Conservative Enough?

More than a dozen members of the Indiana House of Representatives are trying to block Republican primary challengers who say they are not aggressive enough in trying to ban abortion or overturn COVID-19 restrictions ordered by the state’s Republican governor.

Challengers are capitalizing on the frustration of conservative voters and looking to push the state legislature further to the right in Indiana, where Republicans control all offices statewide and have an overwhelming majority for the past decade.