During this weekend’s highly anticipated donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee in Palm Beach, Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel was escorted off the premises while his primary opponent, Jane Timken, was allowed to stay, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell Axios.
What we’re hearing: The invitation-only event is taking place at the Four Seasons Resort, and the RNC reserved the entire hotel. While Timken, former Ohio GOP chair, was invited to the event “because she is a major donor” — Mandel was not, so he was asked to leave, according to one of the sources
- Despite not having his name on the list, Mandel seized on the opportunity to get some face time with top Republican donors while they all were in one place, one source familiar with his plans told Axios.
- But when the first event formally kicked off at the hotel Friday night, Mandel and others who did not have credentials were asked to leave.
- A spokesperson for the RNC declined to comment. Mandel’s team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Between the lines: Those attending the retreat not only have access to big donors, but also key party players, including former President Trump.
- Saturday evening, the group will travel to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump is expected to delver remarks and mingle with attendees.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential contender, will also speak.
Why it matters: The incident gives Timken more visibility and access to Trump, which is crucial as he continues to be the party’s rainmaker and most influential player.
- It also underscores how Trump’s efforts to continue leading the GOP have made all interactions with donors high-stakes.
Background: Trump previously showed interest in endorsing Timken, but was ultimately talked out of it by his son, Donald Trump Jr., and other top advisers.
- Mandel and Timken have long been extremely pro-Trump and both are vying to get the former president’s endorsement — which could be the deciding factor in who wins the race to replace Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who recently announce he will not run for reelection.