J.R. Majewski, embattled congressional candidate, exits Ohio House race

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J.R. Majewski announced Saturday afternoon he will bow out of the GOP primary for a key Ohio congressional seat after a week of waffling on his future in the race.

His departure, just two weeks before the March 19 primary, is welcome news for the House Republicans leaders who have maneuvered behind the scenes to nudge him out of the primary out of fear he would lose the general election to Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

Majewski, the 2022 GOP nominee for northwest Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, lost to Kaptur by double-digits after news reports indicated that he lied about serving in combat in Afghanistan. His candidacy was a blow to House Republicans, who previously saw the district as one of their best pickup opportunities in 2022. To their chagrin, Majewski launched a comeback bid in 2023 only to drop out weeks later, citing his mother’s health. He later got back in the race.

Majewski came under fire again last month when he appeared on a podcast and called Special Olympics athletes “retarded.” He then confirmed to POLITICO on Tuesday that he was considering dropping out of the race once again and that he believed those comments could hurt him in a general election. But on Wednesday he issued a defiant statement that he would remain in the primary.

On Saturday, he issued yet another defiant statement, on X (formerly known as Twitter), saying that "while I know I would win," he was "suspending his campaign."

Party strategists had been working for months to stop Majewski.

Speaker Mike Johnson and the House GOP campaign chief Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) brought his comments to the attention of former President Donald Trump and his team at a Presidents Day meeting at Mar-a-Lago. They asked the former president for help in neutralizing Majewski out of fear he would again blow their chances in the district. Majewski confirmed to POLITICO that he was in contact with people on Trump’s team. It’s unclear what role they played, if any, in his exit.

Kaptur is one of just five House Democrats in a district that Trump carried in 2020. Majewski’s departure leaves two other prominent Republicans in the race: former state Rep. Craig Riedel and state Rep. Derek Merrin.

Majewski’s decision to drop out comes shortly after a super PAC, Ohio Truth PAC, began airing TV ads accusing Majewski of “stolen valor,” a term used to describe someone who misrepresents their military service.

National Republicans were quick to praise the announcement as a step toward protecting their House majority. “Majewski’s decision puts the team first,” said Mike Marinella, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Congressional Leadership Fund President Dan Conston added: “His selfless decision will not soon be forgotten."