Security removed Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel from a donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee, Axios reported.
The retreat, which took place over the weekend in a Palm Beach, Florida, hotel, welcomed guests on an invitation-only basis. Mandel did not have an invitation and crashed the event, according to Axios.
While he was booted from the event, his main opponent, Jane Timken, got to stay and was invited “because she is a major donor,” an unnamed source told Axios.
The event, which began on Friday, provides a prime chance for Republican candidates to mingle with some of the party’s biggest donors.
Axios also points out that event attendees got access to major GOP figures, including former President Donald Trump. On Saturday night, the group headed to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump currently lives. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was also slated to speak to the group, Axios reported. DeSantis is believed to be considering a 2024 run at the presidency.
By getting booted from the retreat, Mandel loses not only a chance to capitalize on key donor power, but also time to schmooze with the former president and GOP mainstays. It also puts Timken in the spotlight in a contested race for a vacant Senate seat.
Both Mandel and Timken have been fighting for Trump’s endorsement, according to Axios. His endorsement could go a long way in their Senate race to replace Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Former President Donald Trump may be far from his old New York boardroom, but on Wednesday he gave four Ohio GOP Senate candidates the type of grilling famously depicted on his long-running reality television series “The Apprentice,” according to Politico.
Before a fundraiser at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, Trump had the candidates – former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former state GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, investment banker Mike Gibbons, and businessman Bernie Moreno – sit together for a backroom meeting.
The four Republicans are set to run for Ohio’s open Senate seat in 2022, which will be vacated by two-term GOP Sen. Rob Portman at the end of his term.
The candidates were all in Florida to attend the event for Max Miller, a Trump-backed candidate who is seeking to unseat GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in a primary and win the general election in Ohio’s heavily-Republican 16th Congressional District.
Mandel, who previously ran for the Senate in 2012 and was defeated by Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, reportedly said he was “crushing” Timken in the polls, while Timken boasted of her grassroots support while leading the state party.
Gibbons reminded Trump of his donations to the former president’s campaign, while Moreno stated that his daughter was a part of Trump’s 2020 campaign team.
With Trump planning to play an active role in the 2022 midterm elections, an endorsement could put the race away for a particular candidate, and they are all openly competing with each other for the former president’s support.
One person familiar with the meeting told Politico that the event was like “The Hunger Games,” the dystopian trilogy of books and feature films; the candidates also had to sit at a circular table facing each other.
When Trump asked the group how the race was going, Timken mentioned discussed her work to reelect the former president.
Trump responded by pointing out that Timken had initially backed Gonzalez after the congressman voted to impeach him, which led Timken to say that she “cleaned” her stance by later calling on the congressman to resign, according to the report.
However, another individual familiar with the meeting said that Trump was just “teasing” Timken over her previous comments about Gonzalez.
The biggest source of tension was reportedly between Timken and Mandel, who have already launched their campaigns, while Gibbons and Moreno haven’t formally started their respective campaigns yet.
Mandel made a strong push for his candidacy, saying that he “hired a bunch of killers” for his campaign team.
“I’m a killer, and we’re going to win the primary and then the general,” he reportedly said.
Trump also showed a high level of interest in GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, whom the former president criticized after the governor referred to President Joe Biden as “president-elect” after the 2020 election was called last year.