One candidate has been circulating a who’s-done-more-for-Donald Trump scorecard. Footage of a waving Trump was dropped without context into a TV ad for another. A photo posted to Twitter gushes over the ex-president and his wife stopping by a third candidate’s fundraiser just to say hello.

The U.S. Senate primary in Ohio is still a year away, but Republican contenders already are working furiously to cast themselves as Trump’s favorite in the open race. That work can be awkward and far from subtle. But it is a measure of how badly the candidates covet a Trump endorsement in a state the former president twice carried by 8 percentage-point margins.

But despite all his pride in playing kingmaker, Trump has been reticent in his endorsements — in some cases even waiting until after the primary to give his approval. That leaves the field in Ohio positioning frantically in hopes of being deemed the Trumpiest of them all.

Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Republican Party in Hamilton County, said it makes sense, with Trump’s demonstrated Ohio popularity and conservative record.

“To the extent that it’s being characterized as a cult of personality, I reject that,” Triantafilou said. “It’s about a set of principles that he boldly put into place as president. And that’s why you’re seeing our candidates running to garner the support of the people who loved his agenda.”

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