The 2018 midterms are going to be followed like nothing we’ve seen before, drawing more mainstream media coverage than did even the 2010 midterms.  Although they have lost two special elections (Kansas and Montana) and failed to avoid a runoff in Georgia, Democrats and their media allies really really want the 2018 midterms to be a referendum on President Trump.

While we focus often on the fact that Democrats are divided between the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing and the slightly less radical Cory Booker wing, Republicans, too, are divided.  The 2018 Ohio Senate race for incumbent Sherrod Brown (D)’s seat provides a snapshot of this friction.

Conservative, conservative-leaning, and Trump-supporting Republicans are already endorsing Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel in what they hope will be a successful rematch between Brown and Mandel.  Mandel lost to Brown in 2012 and last year announced he was running again in 2018.

Mandel, a former Marine and combat veteran, announces his candidacy for Senate:

Today, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced his endorsement of Mandel.

He’s not alone.

Mandel was an early supporter of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, but after Rubio dropped out, Mandel became an avid supporter of then-candidate Trump.

This support for Trump has drawn the ire of some in the GOP, notably of Ohio governor John Kasich (R).  Apparently still chafing over Mandel’s failure to endorse his candidacy in 2016, Kasich indicated earlier this month that he may not endorse Mandel.

Cleveland.com reported at the time:

In a national podcast released Tuesday, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich indicated he may not endorse GOP Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s bid for the U.S. Senate if Mandel turns out to be a “negative guy.”

But Mandel, who is seeking to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2018, doesn’t seem to be losing any sleep over Kasich’s possible endorsement, judging from a Mandel spokesman’s response to Kasich’s comments, made on Politico’s “Off Message” podcast.

“It’s no secret that Josh Mandel supported Donald Trump during the campaign, stuck with him in the rocky times, and continues to support him as President,” the spokesman, Chris Berry, said in a Wednesday email to cleveland.com. “We understand that Josh’s support for President Trump may upset Governor Kasich, and we respect his decision whenever the time is right for him. Either way, Josh is the hardened, unabashed conservative and Marine vet, ready to win a primary and ready to beat Sherrod Brown.”

According to a separate article at Cleveland.com, Mandel also upset Kasich by aggressively opposing both Ohio’s Medicaid expansion and an increased tax on fracking.

Mandel aggressively opposed two of the signature proposals in Kasich’s 2013 state budget proposal: accepting federal dollars to expand Ohio’s Medicaid program and an increased tax on fracking.

Parroting the Tea Party’s positions endeared Mandel to his party’s conservative base, but infuriated the governor’s loyalists, with a spokesman suggesting Mandel was little more than a shill for Big Oil.

Kasich is not alone in his resistance to Mandel.

Apparently, “key Republicans” are encouraging J. D. Vance, who moved back to his home state of Ohio from the Silicone Valley earlier this year, to challenge Mandel in the primary.  Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, is reportedly being courted by certain elements of the Republican party.

Buzzfeed reports:

Some Republican activists and donors worried about the prospects of their party’s Senate candidate in Ohio are kicking around an outside-the-box alternative: Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance.

The recruiting overtures reflect unease with the early GOP frontrunner, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is seeking a rematch with Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown.

Four sources with knowledge of the private encouragement confirmed the conversations to BuzzFeed News. They requested anonymity to speak freely about what could become another intra-party fight in a battleground state where Republicans are divided between those who embraced Donald Trump’s winning presidential campaign and those who didn’t.