What’s making some Ohio progressives – who haven’t fled to Austin or Portland – take a serious pause post primary is the discouraging results by both Morgan Harper and Nina Turner.

The belief that young lefties have been fleeing “Red State Rising” Ohio for more than two decades was further solidified as both Harper and Turner were overwhelmed by establishment Dems Tim Ryan and incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown.

Nina Turner was endorsed by both Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she could only muster 34 percent of the vote. Harper fared worse against Tim Ryan – who’s sounding more and more Clinton-esque by triangulating on the issues and political tribes – as she garnered roughly 18 percent (90,000 votes).

No doubt a mix of special interests and fear of Trump both worked against Turner and Harper.

Both were targeted as being “too woke or liberal” even though many of Harper’s policies are simply common sense. Pushing for more electrical vehicles, easier access to mental healthcare, and eliminating the Senate filibuster.

Arguably worse for these grassroots progressives was the torrents of super PAC money that poured into their opponents. For instance, the Democratic Majority for Israel, bankrolled by the fossil fuel company Samson Energy, gave Brown $1 million during this election.

Another mitigating factor that can’t be ignored is how painfully dependable apathy can be. No doubt huge numbers who should be voting for progressives are simply not inspired. Consider the tens-of-thousands of working-class young people of color and white toiling in the warehouses, service sectors, and offices of Columbus and other major Ohio cities, who have never cared for the political process.  

One staunch lifelong Columbus Democrat who has voted both progressive and establishment – and covered the Statehouse for several major Ohio daily newspapers – suggested Ohio progressives may have to “turn out the lights” on aspirations for statewide office, as “Nina Turner’s loss was bigger on that front.” 

“What have progressives in Ohio accomplished? Won a race or two in Athens and that’s about it,” they said not wanting to use their name for publication. “The most progressive piece of legislation passed in generations was medical marijuana, and it was passed with the help of Republicans.”

What now looms is a potential GOP landslide in Ohio and nationally. Free Press writer and media critic John K. Hartman, who also keeps a close eye on the Statehouse, believes Dem gubernatorial primary winner Nan Whaley – who weathered Dayton’s horrific 2019 mass shooting – will be down significantly in the polls right from the get-go. Tim Ryan will fare better, but also be down early, he added.

“The next poll will show DeWine ahead of Whaley 65/60 to 35/30,” wrote Hartman in an email. “Remember, DeWine recently has shown more popular among Dems and Independents. The first Ryan-Vance poll will likely be closer. Probably Vance 45-40. But a GOP landslide is likely.”

When it comes to Vance’s victory it foreshadows what many expected. That Trump’s influence in rural and suburban Ohio is refusing to wane no matter who he endorses, and that Trump himself is bent on running again in 2024 and needs Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiels continued cash flow as Thiel backed Vance with an eye-popping $14 million.

Even the most Trumpiest of the GOP Senate primary candidates were left bumbling and searching for answers on why the former President would go with “Hillbilly” Vance, who apparently held his nose when he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

Mike Gibbons, former Ohio co-finance chair for Trump’s 2016 victory, was still in disbelief he didn’t get the endorsement and was on local and very conservative 610 AM on Monday.

“Donald Trump endorsed a candidate who was recruited by Mitch McConnell,” he told the station, which had an afternoon host recently suggest that Dr. Fauci was looking younger and younger, possibly due to drinking baby’s blood. “This guy [Vance], who came in from the West Coast, funded by Big Tech, [was] imposed on our state.”

Gibbons then went off to Mars himself, saying “JD is a nice guy” but that this is the “Manchurian Candidate.”

“When somebody says they have to hold their nose and vote for Hilliary Clinton, how could they possibly have a conservative bone in their body?” he stammered.

The Free Press’s Hartman says Vance is a formidable opponent and is “fast on his feet.”

“He’s charismatic. I like Ryan, but his ads so far are ineffective. Vance, like DeWine, will spend $100 million on the general election. Negative ads on Nan Whaley and Tim Ryan have already been produced.”

Hartman said when it comes to progressive candidates in Ohio it’s a daunting task because “Ohio is change resistant.”

“Even in the inner city. AOC’s upset win three years ago was a unique situation. Harper is a very good candidate but aimed too high – twice,” he said referring to her previous run against Rep. Joyce Beatty.

Gloating this Wednesday morning on Fox News was Karl Rove, which makes the agony of defeat sting worse.  

Rove expects a turnout of close to 1.2 million GOP voters in November. Democrats will get 600,000. “The state has moved dramatically in the last four to six years in a Republican direction,” said Rove.