Welcome to the latest Meet the New GOP — fresh candidates in some unlikely places who might just take that oath of office in January after the Red Wave election.
This time I’d like to introduce you to Ohio’s Madison Gesiotto Gilbert.
Gesiotto Gilbert — all of 30 years old — has been active in Republican politics basically her entire, short adult life, starting with Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. After being crowned Miss Ohio USA in 2014, Gesiotto then gained nationwide attention for her fundraising efforts on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project.
She describes herself as a “day one supporter of President Donald Trump.” Gesiotto Gilbert served as a national surrogate for Trump in 2016, as an advisor to The National Diversity Coalition for Trump that same year, and sat on Trump’s 2020 Campaign Advisory Board.
She’s also married to former Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert.
Did I mention Gesiotto Gilbert is all of 30 years old? She makes me feel like a total slacker.
Gesiotto Gilbert supports “common-sense criminal justice reforms” for non-violent offenders, a balanced budget amendment (which would go a long way towards taming inflation), completing the border wall, and “a national strategy to combat the rise of China.”
But what’s most interesting about Gesiotto Gilbert might not be her positions, her crown, her law degree, or her political efforts, but rather the district she’s chosen to run in.
Ohio’s 13th District hasn’t sent a Republican to Washington since our Bicentennial. The district did, however, make something of a national star out of Democrat Sherrod Brown, who was elected to the Senate in 2007 and, like a rash, is still there.
The 13th is currently held by Tim Ryan, who is locked in a fierce battle with Republican J.D. Vance to become the state’s junior senator.
Cook Political rates the district D+1, and says the race is a tossup. The 13th went solidly for Presidentish Joe Biden in 2020, 51%-47%. Voter registration follows the exact same pattern.
So why am I so excited about Gesiotto Gilbert’s chances?
For starters, with Ryan running for Senate, it’s an open seat. Representing the Democrats is Emilia Sykes, Minority Leader of the Ohio Statehouse. Sykes basically inherited her assembly seat from her father, Vernon Sykes. Her mother, Barbara, served on the Akron City Council. She also had the same statehouse seat previously held and then later held again by Vernon — and now by Emilia.
That’s a whole lotta nepotism goin’ on.
It’s my experience that politicians who don’t have to politick very hard to win their positions aren’t usually very good at retail politics.
Also, Sykes is basically a machine politician of no particular legislative accomplishments — her claim to fame is initiating the effort to eliminate the sales tax from tampons — in a year when Americans feel particularly frustrated with politics as usual.
On top of all that, D+1 might not be enough to win in a state where Biden’s approval rating is 37 points underwater. Ohio gives Biden 26 percent approval and 63 percent disapproval.
FiveThirtyEight projects that Gesiotto is favored to win this race — with a whopping 85% chance of victory. Granted, their projection is an outlier. But wave elections usually generate more than a few outlier, real-world results.
If there’s anything to hold Gesiotto back, it’s that the birth of her first child last month has kept her off the campaign trail.
I don’t know if Gesiotto will win this, but I’m sure she’ll play a part in the New GOP for as long as she wants to.